Dewsbury election candidate claims dirty tricks over waste complaint

A Conservative candidate in May’s local elections says he is the victim of a dirty tricks campaign after a complaint about fly-tipping left him at risk of prosecution.

Monday, 15th March 2021, 12:32 pm
Updated Monday, 15th March 2021, 12:34 pm
The former Bull’s Head pub in Ravensthorpe, and Basharat Rafiq, the Conservative candidate for Dewsbury West in May’s local elections.

Basharat Rafiq, who has been named as the Tory candidate for Dewsbury West, is at the centre of a complaint over hundreds of tyres dumped illegally in the car park of a Ravensthorpe pub.

Residents who reported the issue to Kirklees Council said they were worried that the tyres and other waste were a magnet for would-be arsonists.

Mr Rafiq and his business partner, Basharat Ditta, run Grand Centaurus Ltd, which owns the former Bull’s Head pub on Huddersfield Road.

However Mr Rafiq said the responsibility for the fly-tipping rested with the leaseholder of the pub.

He said the complaint was an attempt to “discredit” him due to his candidacy in the forthcoming elections on May 6.

He added: “I have been attacked in various forms from bullying and harassment to fake profiles on Facebook.”

He said they were tactics that had been “deployed for years”.

In an email seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) and dated March 4 a council manager said the authority’s legal team would be requested to proceed with prosecution.

The council planned to take court action against Grand Centaurus Ltd, who own the property, and the leaseholder of the pub itself.

It added: “This will now allow us to remove the waste and charge costs back.”

However as of March 4 prosecution files had not been signed off. The tyres and other waste have now been moved.

A council spokesperson confirmed: “The council is aware there has been an accumulation of waste in the area and is addressing the issue.”

A local resident who said he was not affiliated to any party and who asked to remain anonymous reported the illegal dump to the council after the waste accumulated over the past three to four weeks.

He said it was considered to be a fire hazard as it was next to a petrol station and an industrial estate.

A 6ft-high wooden fence largely hid the waste from the road.

When contacted by the LDRS Mr Rafiq said he had not received any emails or correspondence, and was not aware of any legal action “against me or my company”.

He added: “I was approached by the council in regards to the issue raised. I had informed the council the property was owned by the company but had a standing tenant in since last year.

“I forwarded the relevant documents including the lease to the council for them to pursue the tenant.”

The LDRS understands the tenant may be abroad.