Councillor upset by Thornton Heath car wash slur
A LABOUR councillor has spoken of his distress at being publicly accused of offering to take a bung to help a planning application for a car wash in Thornton Heath.
Humayun Kabir, who strongly denies the allegations, says he was intimidated after objecting to a banner which claimed he had offered to "sort out" the application in exchange for £2,000.
The police were called to speak to the owner of the car wash in Brigstock Road and, when officers left, Cllr Kabir's name was scribbled out.
Having lost its four-year planning battle the car wash has now been closed, with the banner informing customers: "We have been shut down by Croydon Council after refusing to pay a bribe to a Labour councillor."
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Neither the police or the council have received any complaints about Cllr Kabir's conduct.
The West Thornton councillor described the allegations as completely unfounded and said he had never even met the owner of the car wash.
He believes the banner was revenge for a letter he wrote objecting to the application.
"Residents came to me with their concerns and asked me to write to the planning inspector on their behalf," he said.
"They were worried about the noise and said the car wash was a health and safety hazard because vehicles were blocking the pavements.
"I've never met the owner and I don't know his name. I'm on the licensing committee, so I don't even have a say in planning applications.
"The owners must have known I wrote the letter and are making me a scapegoat."
The car wash first opened, without planning permission, in 2008.
After the council proposed to close it down, the owner applied for retrospective planning permission.
This application was rejected, along with two subsequent appeals, on the basis that the car wash would cause an "unacceptable level of noise and general disturbance" and "create a hazard to pedestrians and vehicular traffic using the highway".
The owner even took the planning inspector to an unsuccessful judicial review, before failing in an attempted appeal to the High Court.
The defamatory banner first appeared on May 3. Police visited the site the following day and it was shut down last week.
Cllr Kabir added: "I feel very angry. It's not good for people to say these things.
"My reputation is on the line."
Labour leader Tony Newman described the allegations as "absolutely outrageous" and said the car wash owners had "failed to produce a shred of evidence" to back up their claims.
A police spokesman said: "We can confirm that we received an allegation of harassment against a 50 year-old man from Thornton Heath on May 4.
"An officer from Croydon CID investigated this and has spoken with both parties involved, and no further police action is being taken at this stage."