Outrage at Hussain 'promotion'
Reporter: Kirsty Allen
Date online: 15 June 2012
The news that Labour councillor Aftab Hussain has been 'promoted' to Chairman of the Pennines Township Committee has been unpopular amongst the people of Rochdale.
Hussain gave a positive character reference for Abdul Qayyum, who was later convicted of conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child.
Both Hussain and former mayor Zulfiquar Ali, who stepped down, appeared as character witnesses for Qayyum.
Ali has since called his decision as a “silly mistake”. Hussain, however, remains in his role as a Labour councillor in the Firgrove and Smallbridge ward, and is now chairman of a Township committee.
When asked their thoughts on Hussain’s position, the people of Rochdale were unanimous. A Harris, who works in the town centre, said: “It’s just Rochdale all over, it’s an absolute joke. He should have been sacked, never mind standing down. It infuriates me.”
Richard Brockley said: “I don’t think he should have kept his job, and I don’t think he should be earning any more either. I think it’d be the same though in any other town.”
A resident who did not want to be named said: “He should have been out of the job the moment he wrote the letter. This town only protects certain people, and we can’t do anything about it. Have the police just turned a blind eye?”
One of the integral roles of a councillor is that of a corporate parent, a role that gives responsibility to all councillors for the welfare of the town’s children.
Jean Ashworth is an ex-councillor. She said: “Corporate parenting is one of the most important roles a councillor undertakes. It involves protecting, supporting and being there for all vulnerable children.
“Councillor Hussain should have known better than to support a suspect. Is an apology enough? At the end of the day the man was convicted – Hussain has gone against this poor girl.”
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