THE Mayor of Luton has quit after he was pictured flouting lockdown rules at a party just days before cases surged in the town.
Tahir Malik and two other councillors were forced to apologise after the photographs of them at the garden party were shared online.
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He has now stepped down from his role after breaking coronavirus guidelines.
Mr Malik said: "Once again I regret my actions which were below the standard of my position and would like to sincerely apologise to the people of Luton for attending this gathering which was in breach of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
"There is no excuse for what I did – I should have known better and I accept full responsibility for my actions."
The dozen-strong party was held on July 21 – days before Luton and Blackburn were named as 'areas of intervention' due to rising numbers of coronavirus cases.
Mr Malik could be seen with a face mask dangling under his chin – with no other attendee wearing the protective gear.
According to government guidelines – which have been in place since June 1 – a maximum of six people can meet outdoors providing they remain two metres apart or one metre with a face covering.
A probe was launched by both the Labour party and Luton Borough Council after a number of complaints were made.
Mr Malik said today he wanted to wait for he outcome of the probe before deciding whether to leave his post.
But he added: "After reflecting with my family over the last few days, we agreed that the best thing I could do for the town was resign from my position with immediate effect.
"I have learnt a valuable lesson from this, but I hope the consequence of my actions serves as a reminder to the people of Luton of the importance of following the Covid-19 guidelines as it remains a real and serious threat."
A new Mayor will be appointed at the Full Council meeting on 29 September, who will serve for the remainder of the municipal year.
Cllr Hazel Simmons MBE, Leader of Luton Council, said: “I would like to thank Cllr Malik for his service as Mayor of Luton.
"He made a mistake which he deeply regrets, and I know he and his family are really hurting right now.
"Prior to this he had been an excellent ambassador for the town both locally and nationally, raising a lot of money for charity during the process.
"What has happened is unfortunate, and I think it is right for him to step down at this time, but it’s important to recognise the fantastic contribution he has made to Luton.”
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