‘Accusations are accusations’ a leading councillor has said after bribery concerns surfaced at Slough Borough Council.

The council and Thames Valley Police received complaints last month that money had been ‘solicited’ in return for planning permission.

Conservative councillor Iftakhar Ahmed later denied that his subsequent resignation as the councillor responsible for planning permission was connected to the complaint.

But Labour opposition leader councillor Pavitar Mann said she was glad that the council’s planning committee would be led by new Conservative chairs when it was appointed on Thursday, May 16.

READ MORE: No police investigation into bribery claims

She said: “I would like to welcome councillor Dauti and councillor Tomar as chair and vice chair of planning. I’m very glad that there’s been a change in that given some of the stories that we’ve had.”

She added: “I haven’t had to change any of my members on the planning committee. I wonder why that might be.”

Ishrat Shah, a Conservative member of the council’s leading cabinet, replied that bribery accusations could turn out to be false.

She said: “They were talking about some kind of accusations. Accusations are accusations and until they are proven, they are accusations. It can be false.”

Labour councillors also said the concerns showed specific anti-bribery measures need to be written into the council’s constitution when anti-fraud measures are reviewed later this year.

Labour’s deputy leader councillor Christine Hulme said: “Given what’s been going on in this town over the last couple of months, I think the other issue that needs to be included in that review will be our commitment to anti-bribery.”

But she said that the council’s constitution does say the council can launch ‘a bribery risk assessment’ where it’s appropriate.

She added: “Given the press stories that have been circulating regarding planning in this town over the past couple of months I think this issue should be brought forward sooner rather than later.”

Councillor Ahmed stepped down from the cabinet on April 18 after council leader Dexter Smith tried to remove his responsibility for planning. His resignation came some two weeks after the council received a letter alleging bribery related to planning permission.

Councillor Ahmed’s son, councillor Adil Iftakhar, is now also no longer chair of the planning committee.

But the Observer understands no individual was named in the complaint. And councillor Ahmed has told the Observer there is ‘no connection’ between his resignation and the bribery allegations.

In his resignation email, he told councillor Smith he ‘can no longer support your vision and agenda because the council has failed under your watch.’

It came after councillor Smith told councillor Ahmed he wanted him to ‘concentrate’ on responsibilities for sport and leisure instead.