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Senior Walsall councillor suspended amid death club licence probe

A senior Walsall councillor has been suspended by the Conservative group over alleged discrepancies in his declaration of interests.

Capital Leisure holds the licence for Valesha's and the strip club above it on Newport Street, Walsall

Streetly councillor Suky Samra has been suspended with immediate effect after he was accused of breaching the members code of conduct.

Councillor Samra is the subject of an investigation concerning an application to renew the licence of Savannah's strip club in Newport Street, which is above Valesha’s nightclub where 29-year-old Akeem Francis-Kerr was fatally stabbed on March 11.

Councillor Mike Bird, Conservative leader of Walsall Council, said: "I can confirm that Councillor Samra has been suspended from the Conservative group with immediate effect, pending the outcome of an investigation by the monitoring officer.

"This is concerning alleged discrepancies in his declaration of interests."

The probe was launched after West Midlands Police said a "serious disclosure failure" occurred when the renewal application was submitted for the strip club, which operates under the same licence as Valesha's and is held by Capital Leisure.

The only director of the firm was listed as Councillor Samra, who sits on the council's licensing committee. However, police said it had since come to light that other parties were involved – namely Mr Samra's parents – and that the application for the renewal of the licence was "seriously deficient".

In a letter to the council, Chief Superintendent Phil Dolby said Mr Samra had made "no mention" of his links to the club in his declaration of interests as a councillor.

Councillor Samra said at the time Akeem was killed there were tenants on a lease who were in operational control of the premises.

He maintains that he had declared an interest in Capital Leisure when he was connected to the business, and that his name was on the application form as the contact for his family.

Councillor Samra, who was also suspended from the Conservative group last year, said his current suspension was linked to long running animosity between him and Councillor Bird.

"This is a low blow and I won't be losing any sleep over it," he said. "My conscience is clear and I am happy to answer any questions from the monitoring officer at any time.

"Clearly I don't see eye to eye with Councillor Bird and this is nothing more than a witch hunt against me."

Walsall Council's licensing sub-committee is due to meet to review the licence for Savannah’s on Tuesday.

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