Three Labour committee chairs exposed over failure to declare financial interests

Investigation reveals chairs of the planning committee, councillor conduct committee and general purposes committee omitted key information from their register of interests, reports James Cracknell

Enfield Civic Centre and Labour councillors (inset, left) Sabri Ozaydin, (inset, centre) Mahym Bedekova and (inset, right) Sinan Boztas
Enfield Civic Centre and Labour councillors Sabri Ozaydin (inset, left), Mahym Bedekova (inset, centre) and Sinan Boztas (inset, right)

The chairs of three Enfield Council committees have failed to fully disclose their financial interests in the borough, the Dispatch can reveal.

Planning committee chair Sinan Boztas, a Labour councillor for Lower Edmonton, did not specify any of the land he owned in the borough until being prompted to do so this month and, as of this morning (Tuesday 22nd), had still not publicly declared the address for one of the four properties he owns in Enfield.

Councillor conduct committee chair Sabri Ozaydin, who represents Enfield Lock ward and is also the Labour group’s chief whip, having previously served as mayor, did not declare that he is the director of two companies. One of them is a property firm involved in the redevelopment of the Labour Party’s Celbic Hall building in Lancaster Road – which is set to be decided at a planning committee scheduled for this evening.

A third senior Labour councillor, general purposes committee chair Mahym Bedekova, declared on her register of interests that she was the owner of an ex-council flat that she lets out to a tenant, but did not specify where in the borough this was.

All three Labour members were first elected to the council in 2018 and successfully re-elected in May this year. It is a requirement for councillors to declare their financial interests in the borough upon being elected and to keep these records updated whenever there is a change. The council’s code of conduct states that “failure to register a disclosable pecuniary interest could be a breach of the code and a criminal offence”.

The register of interests for every councillor is published on the council’s website, although some parts of the register – such as property interests – can usually only be viewed in person at the civic centre. Some councillors can ask for permission to black out their addresses for the public register after they have been declared, but Cllr Boztas made no such request and had instead completely omitted the locations of the four properties he owns on his form submitted in May this year – simply writing that he owned “4 lands”.

Asked by the Dispatch why he had not originally declared which properties he owned, Cllr Boztas said: “I submitted my register of interest promptly after the election. I was unclear that I was required to add the addresses (there had been discussion about keeping addresses confidential for councillor safety reasons). The omission was flagged to me by officers earlier this month when they were reviewing the forms, and I swiftly replied and provided all the information.”

Despite this assurance, only three addresses had been added to Cllr Boztas’s public register of interests as of this morning.

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Asked by the Dispatch why he had not declared on his register of interests form that he was a director of both River Front Properties Ltd and Housing Gateway Ltd, Cllr Ozaydin said: “River Front Properties is a Labour Party owned building in Enfield. My declaration form declares I am a member of the Labour Party.

“Housing Gateway is a council-owned company, which I am appointed onto at full council which is a public meeting and publicly available documents [sic].”

Celbic Hall is the headquarters of Enfield North Constituency Labour Party. Three attempts have been made to redevelop the Lancaster Road site in recent years and the latest planning application is due to be considered by Tuesday’s planning committee. Planning documents show that River Front Properties has submitted the scheme and is proposing to replace the current building with “a three-storey block comprising of six self-contained flats, with a community hall on the ground floor”.

Cllr Bedekova, who represents Haselbury, did not respond to a request for comment regarding her failure to declare the location of an Enfield property that she rents out.

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The leader of the Conservative opposition group in Enfield, Alessandro Georgiou, has said the three senior Labour councillors should all stand down from their roles while an investigation takes place. Cllr Georgiou told the Dispatch: “Clearly it is wholly improper for any councillor to not declare something on their register of interests form.

“Cllr Boztas has lots of questions to answer and should not be determining planning applications while this cloud hangs over his head. Cllr Ozaydin, as chairman of the councillor conduct committee and Labour chief whip, really should know better and should step down from his roles until the leader of the council initiates an investigation.”

The Dispatch asked the council press office to explain whether the local authority’s monitoring officer was aware of the discrepancies and omissions from the register of interests for Cllr Boztas, Cllr Ozaydin and Cllr Bedekova and what action had been taken to rectify them. A spokesperson said: “The members’ register of interests is available for public inspection, although some details have been excluded from publication with the approval of the council’s monitoring officer as a special dispensation. No dispensations have been granted for the members mentioned in the enquiry.

“All members are aware of the need to maintain their register of interests and changes are made by members from time to time. We are aware that a number of councillors have updated their registers recently and these can be viewed on the council’s website.”

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