KIRKLEES Council is investigating allegations about the running of a Muslim burial ground which is partly operated by a newly-elected Dewsbury councillor.
Coun Abdul Patel this week hit back at claims about the amounts paid by bereaved families to himself and former Batley councillor Ghulam Maniyar, who together run the Muslim Mosque Burial Committee.
It has been alleged that the men may have taken up to £1m from families during the 25 years they have leased the private plot near Dewsbury Cemetery.
It is also claimed the burial committee may have questions to answer about tax and accounts and that there is no record of where bodies are buried.
But Coun Patel – who won his Dewsbury East seat for Labour this year – says the allegations are untrue.
“I don’t think this will affect my work as a councillor at all,” he said.
“The community is behind me and I am not worried about the outcome of any investigation.”
Mr Maniyar – a Batley East Labour councillor until 2004 – also insists: “None of this is true. I won’t be losing any sleep.
“We have a lease on the land and pay to Kirklees Council. And we have a record of every grave. If we didn’t pay our rent the council would follow it up.
“There are more than 400 graves there and if we didn’t keep up records there would be an investigation.”
He said the committee was an open organisation, and payments for burials differed because some people wanted more than the basics which pushed up the cost.
“I have no fear about this at all,” said Mr Maniyar. “Our operation is an open book.”
Kirklees Council’s audit team has begun an investigation after a former councillor raised concerns about the committee.
A spokesman said: “The investigation is more than 50 per cent complete. So far there has been no police or tax authority involvement.
“The site in question is privately leased and Kirklees Council does not have statutory requirements regarding the registration and disposal of bodies at the site .”
But he said graves in the Muslim cemetery were not the council’s responsibility.
He added that there was nothing apparent at this stage to stop Coun Patel continuing as a councillor.