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Brent leader accused of having ‘no credibility’ over the issue of adhering to lockdown measures

PUBLISHED: 17:12 03 August 2020 | UPDATED: 12:25 09 November 2020

Cllr Muhammed Butt, Leader of Brent Council. Picture: Francis Henry

Cllr Muhammed Butt, Leader of Brent Council. Picture: Francis Henry

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An opposition councillor has called for an apology from Brent Council’s leader for attending a joint prayer event before restrictions were relaxed.

Cllr Anton Georgiou says Brent needs the infrastructure to support the building of new homes.Cllr Anton Georgiou says Brent needs the infrastructure to support the building of new homes.

Cllr Anton Georgiou, the sole Lib Dem representative on the council, said Cllr Muhammed Butt has “lost credibility” over coronavirus social distancing rules.

As reported in this paper, Cllr Butt attended a religious meeting in Ealing Road Temple along with other Labour councillors on June 11, while it was not until June 13 that “individual prayer” was allowed in places of worship.

Speaking after a community and wellbeing committee meeting on July 21, the council leader said: "Of course the parties and the use of outdoor gyms we saw during lockdown are not acceptable given the heightened risk, but when you have such mixed messages from central government on what can and can't be done, you can see why people were confused and were restless and frustrated after so many weeks of lockdown".

But Cllr Georgiou said: "The labour leader of Brent Council lost credibilty on the issue of adhering to the lockdown when he and three of his labour colleagues decided to break the rules and attend a religious service on June 11.

“Most Brent residents have closely followed lockdown rules and in doing so have sacrificed so much."

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“I agree that those who choose to break the rules and put others at risk should be called out.

“But before attacking others Cllr Butt should provide an explanation and give a public apology for his own actions.”

Cllr Butt said: “Cllr Georgiou chose not to participate in the council scrutiny meeting on which Adam’s (Adam Shaw, local democracy reporter) article was partially based. Had he chosen to participate in that meeting, he’d have a better chance of understanding what this borough’s residents are really up against - I will continue to make sure that the pain and suffering that the residents of Brent have endured is heard loudly and we strive to make sure that government recognises that they need to do more for all of us in this great borough.”

No organisation has said it organised the “pray or reflect at home” event, which was promoted on the Brent Council website.

A spokesperson for Ealing Road Temple directed enquiries to Cllr Butt, who told this paper: “I took part in a socially distanced event at the Ealing Road Temple on Thursday June 11 as part of a borough-wide Brent Multi Faith Forum call for joint prayer and reflection.”

This article was amended on November 9, 2020. It originally stated that the council leader told a community and wellbeing committee meeting that people disregarding social distancing guidance was “not acceptable and heightened risk”. In fact, speaking after the meeting, he said that "the parties and the use of outdoor gyms we saw during lockdown are not acceptable given the heightened risk".

 


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