Is shake-up of councillors on Luton's executive committee in pipeline?

A planned shake-up of Luton's executive committee could be in the pipeline - but it remains to be seen whether leaks that three Labour councillors have been cast aside are true.

Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 5:52 pm
Updated Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 6:34 pm

Campaign group Save Our Town shared rumours online that councillors Mahmood Hussain, Paul Castleman and Jacqui Burnett had "been sacked" in a reshuffle.

"All three were the main protagonists against the [Luton Town Football Club] Cutenhoe Road academy dome project," said the Twitter post.

Labour Farley councillor Hussain is the portfolio holder for children's health and wellbeing, Labour South councillor Castleman for planning and transport, and Labour Lewsey councillor Burnett for safer, stronger communities.

All three have been approached for comment.

The Luton News has been told that likely replacements are councillors Abbas Hussain, of Dallow ward, Limbury's Rob Roche and Tahmina Saleem of Round Green.

Asked to comment today (Wednesday), Labour council leader councillor Hazel Simmons did not dismiss the rumours. She said in a statement: "We currently go through a selection process for the cabinet for the following year.

"This happens every year, and I am going through that process at the moment.

Luton Town Hall; (inset, from top to bottom) Cllrs Paul Castleman, Mahmood Hussain and Jacqui Burnett
Luton Town Hall; (inset, from top to bottom) Cllrs Paul Castleman, Mahmood Hussain and Jacqui Burnett

"We will be holding the annual general meeting of the council on May 18th when all the positions will be announced."

What we know for sure is that the current deputy group leader Sian Timoney will step down from her role in May.

The Labour Farley councillor was first appointed as deputy leader in 2012 and her executive portfolio responsibility is for building economic growth.

She announced on social media in February: "I have today notified the leader of Luton Council of my intention to stand down as deputy leader at our annual general meeting (AGM) in May.

"I wish to focus on other projects and also want to allow someone else the opportunity to develop in a leadership role.

"It has been a privilege to lead our town."

Another source told the Luton News that councillor Mahmood Hussain might be nominated for the position of town mayor instead.

The current mayor Maria Lovell and deputy mayor Labour Saints councillor Summara Khurshid took over in September.

It followed the resignation of Tahir Malik, who was one of three Labour councillors to breach Covid-19 guidelines.

Labour Leagrave councillor Lovell stepped up from the role of deputy mayor to replace him, after they were given a further 12 months in office because of the pandemic.

Labour South councillor David Agbley was due to become mayor last year before the coronavirus outbreak intervened.