THE Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles MP has called for the deputy leader of Sandwell Council Councillor Mahboob Hussein to step down while the investigation into corruption allegations is ongoing.

The Government big hitter described the investigation into Oldbury Cllr Hussain as "massive" when he visited Halesowen on the campaign trail last week.

The West Midlands Regional Fraud Squad launched the corruption investigation concerning allegedly fraudulent land deals in September.

However, the remit has since widened to incorporate new allegations including vote-rigging and police top brass also allocated extra resources to the investigating team.

Mr Pickles said: “Personally if he was a friend of mine I would advise him to stand down to put all his efforts into clearing his name. I’m not making a judgement on whether he is guilty or not.

“I’ve seen this so many times when people hang on when they should go, sooner or later he will have to step down, and in my experience it is always best to go sooner.”

Halesowen and Rowley Regis MP James Morris echoed Mr Pickles call for Cllr Hussain to stand down.

He said: “'Now it is becoming clear about the nature and length of the investigation Cllr Hussain should stand down from his position until the investigation has been completed."

“Everybody has a right to a fair trial – even politicians – but these accusations are so serious that the right thing to do must be for Cllr Hussain to step aside from his cabinet roles while they are properly investigated.

“That doesn’t mean automatically presuming that he is guilty but it does mean recognising that these allegations – if they are proven – would represent serious criminal offences."

However, the leader of Sandwell Council Darren Cooper slammed both Mr Pickles and James Morris for calling for Cllr Hussain to resign.

He said: "There is an election on so this is political opportunism of the worst kind by both Eric Pickles and James Morris who is fighting for his political life in Halesowen and Rowley Regis. "I have been advised by police they are not investigating any individual member of Sandwell Council, they are investigating processes. If I thought Mahboob Hussain had done anything wrong I would have asked him to go myself."

Last September Cllr Hussain had to apologise for failing to declare an interest in Five Star Taxis which won lucrative contracts from Sandwell Council.

In October he stood down as chairman of the Sandwell Council’s asset management and land disposal committee after allegations about fraudulent land deals and members of his family surfaced.

Cllr Hussain continues to serve as a deputy leader, cabinet member for town and neighbourhood services and a ward councillor for Oldbury.

Detective Inspector Chris Berrow, from the Regional Organised Crime Unit, said: “Police received an allegation of irregularities in the sale of former council properties in September 2014 and an investigation was launched.

“We continue to assess the information to determine whether or not any crimes have been committed. No arrests have been made at this time."

Cllr Hussain has previously declined to comment.