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I thought I’d do my public duty and share the Rabina4Mayor canvassing campaign diary that has been sent to me. The Limhouse ward organising meeting at 7pm tomorrow in the “Limehouse portakabin” sounds fun. If any other candidate would like this service, do get in touch. Thanks. (For comedy, see update at the end of this post).

Hello everyone on Glyns list, Sybil has kindly put together this list of activity. – Thanks for helping with Rabina’s campaign. As ever, if you no longer want to receive these emails please let Jackie know.

Here is a list of things you can join in with.  Leafleting Primary Schools in the mornings and at the end of school is a very good way of talking to people about the issues.

At ward level there are meetings in some areas to get the canvassing organised. These are listed below.

This weekend:

Meet on SATURDAY May 23rd AT 11AM at Chicksand St, London E1 5LD for canvassing in SPITALFIELDS

Meet on SUNDAY May 24th  AT 11AM for canvassing in STEPNEY (reply to this email for more information)

Saturday at 1pm Whitechapel Ideas Store  – Defy Austerity demo – bring Banners to protest at Tory Austerity and in defence of Local Democracy.

Here are details of Primary Schools and Tube stations to be leafletted.

Morning Primary Schools (8.30-9 am) 

Thursday 21st May Bangabhandu and Stewart Headlam (BG)

Friday 22nd May Ben Johnson and Stebon (STE)

Tuesday 26th May Blue Gate Fields (SW) AND Marion Richardson (SNY)

Weds 27th May Bonner (BG) AND Mayflower (POP)

Thurs 28th May Bygrove (POP) AND Old Ford (BOW)

Friday 29th May Canon Barnett (Aldgate) AND Olga (ME)

Afternoon Primary schools – (3pm – 3.30 pm)

Thursday 21st May Chisenhale (Vic Park) AND Thomas Buxton (BG)

Friday 22nd May Halley (ME) AND Guardian Angels RC (ME)

Tuesday 26th May Columbia (BG) AND Christ Church (BL)

Weds 27th May Cubitt Town (POP/isle of dogs) AND Mowlem (BG) AND Wellington (BOW)

Thurs 28th May Culloden (POP) AND Old Palace (BOW)

Fri 29th May Cyril Jackson AND Osmani AND William Davis

Leafleting Tube stations: 5-7 pm

Thursday 21st May Bethnal Green Friday

22nd May Mile End Tuesday 26th May

Aldgate East Weds 27th May

Wapping Thurs 28th May Stepney Green

Friday 29th May Poplar

Below are Ward organising meetings for these areas

Isle of Dogs

Thursday 21st May

Time: 7:30pm

Venue: Calders Wharf Community Centre E14 3AE

Limehouse

Friday 22 May

Time: 7pm Limehouse portakabin

Bromley N & S

Saturday 23 May

Time: 6pm Kingsley hall, E3 3HJ

Spitalfields and banglatown

28 may at 7pm

Montefiore centre, E1

If you would like to help with door to door  leafletting and canvassing in your ward or near where you work please email: rabinaformayor@gmail.com to be added to our mailing list.

UPDATE

Uh oh…just had this Tweet:

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 22.29.39The word brewery springs to mind.

 

This extraordinary ‘interview’ with Rabina Khan has been published on YouTube and is being actively promoted on social media by her supporters.

The interviewer, Aaron Bastani, is not a journalist but some kind of political activist who runs a media company called Novara Media.

The video is six minutes long and worth watching if only for the fun factor. When I watched it I got the impression that even Rabina was a little embarrassed by the softball questioning. “What does it say about Labour that the ‘fightback’ begins against a Left-wing anti-austerity woman?” is Aaron’s penetrating opening gambit.

I’ll let you count how many times he asks about the Election Court trial and corruption. Toe-curling. In fact, it took Rabina herself to raise the issue of Lutfur Rahman. “He has his issues, I have my own way of going forward,” she tells Aaron.

Aaron, possibly unaware of the careers of Pola Uddin or Rushanara Ali, for example, or that Rabina was the only female councillor in Lutfur’s team, also suggests that Labour has a problem with “Muslim women” who want to progress from being mere “footsoldiers” for the party to becoming leaders in positions of power. Does he have a point? From my many years of following Tower Hamlets politics, I think it’s more to do with a lack of talent to be honest. Male and female. Of all faiths and none. And on that point, I think Rabina would have been cleverer to decline such a fawning interview. Her supporters in the Bengali media are promoting it but I think it just insults the intelligence of the viewer.

A second video of Rabina was also published today on eastlondonlines.co.uk, the site run by student journalists at Goldsmiths College. I’m going to be nice to them because they do much good work. And in any case, they don’t pretend it’s an interview. Here it is.

In other developments, as predicted, John Biggs has announced he would appoint three deputy mayors: Rachael Saunders, Sirajul Islam and Shiria Khatun.

Various people who have been out campaigning tell me that they detect less of a buzz on the doorstep about Rabina compared with Lutfur, but that John will still find it difficult to attract Lutfur voters anyway. I’m also told that many in the Bengali media believe that had Labour selected a Bangladeshi candidate this time, they’d far surer of a win. Tower Hamlets, eh.

This is a guest post by Andy Erlam, who initiated the election petition that brought down Lutfur Rahman. He is a former Labour ministerial adviser who lives in Bow and who is now standing on behalf of the Red Flag Anti-Corruption Party for the Tower Hamlets mayor election on June 11.

andy erlam

By Andy Erlam, ‘the man who makes it happen’

My Resolutions

Tower Hamlets has been through a very difficult period, when its local government machine has been in absolute crisis. A local council should simply be a source of help to individuals and the local communities, not a source of irritation, controversy, injustice and sheer dysfunctionality. The problems are not new.

“Divide and rule” is the oldest form of repression. The Election Petition High Court judgement, especially the order for new mayoral election, provide a unique opportunity for Tower Hamlets: to build a new high-quality local government machine worthy of the people and controlled by the people. This is an opportunity in our lifetimes to create outstanding local government here in Tower Hamlets.

It’s not rocket science but it is very important and it will take many people working together to achieve a transformation of the Council, under a new form of leadership – leadership from the front, co-operative and collaborative leadership and leadership with a clear vision and determination to achieve major results.

I am standing for election as not only the mayor of Tower Hamlets but as a new kind of mayor. The people of Tower Hamlets must get back in control of their local council and stay in control.

I am making these resolutions now as a benchmark of what will be achieved. I will:

  1. Ensure that team-working is adopted universally in council business, in the same way as my cross-party team brought about the defeat of the previous mayor in the High Court in April. When people work together co-operatively so much can be achieved. I will ensure that factional in-fighting is minimised.
  2. Ensure that my considerable experience of working in national and international government and in grass-roots community work over many years is applied in the most useful way to our local government, working, of course, as a full-time mayor, with no big political party interfering with my actions.
  3. Ensure that the new permanent Chief Executive is encouraged to act under political direction but without political interference, so making the town hall a happy place to work.
  4. Ensure that the views of all citizens are recognised, making the maximum possible use of direct democracy and respecting the traditions of the British constitution.
  5. Ensure continuous interaction with all councillors, guaranteeing their position as the first point of contact for their supporters. All councillors should be brought into the decision-making processes.
  6. Ensure that new forums for the widest range of interest groups and communities must be formed to keep the Council in touch between elections.
  7. Ensure that the Cabinet is cross-party made up of councillors from all the political parties and that Cabinet and Council decisions comply with the highest standards of transparency and integrity. Power will be delegated.
  8. Ensure that new checks and balances introduced to ensure that the elected mayor is accountable to the Cabinet, the Council and the public. These are needed to ensure good decision-making in the interests of the whole community. Power should be shared with the Cabinet, the whole Council and the whole community. Some believe that the elected mayoral system places too much power in one pair of hands. The arrangements can be modified and Tower Hamlets can return to a more shared system of leadership. All these things need careful review and reform.
  9. Ensure, in particular, that the Oversight and Scrutiny Committee of the Council is treated with respect and that the mayor attends regularly and provides as much information and asssitance as possible. With the right relationships, everyone benefits.
  10. Ensure that the Council recruits staff from the widest range of people, so as to reflect the communities in a balanced way, including the recruitment of disabled people.
  11. Ensure that subsidised public housing is not used as a source of private income or otherwise abused. New systems of accountability to tenants and leaseholders are needed. The role of local social housing providers must be reviewed. Problems and shortcomings must be exposed and dealt with.
  12. Ensure a continuing improvement in education by strengthening systems of support and recognising the central role of school governors. Education is about helping children and young people finding their niche in life.
  13. Ensure a fresh tradition of trust between the council, the police and the community. The Metropolitan Police have given priority to improving policing in the Borough. The police service should be equally good for all local people.   The new local senior police officers are open to reform and improvement.
  14. Ensure social cohesion by the strict adoption of a one language policy in all official business, with no sector of society taking preference over any other.
  15. Ensure religious independence by removing all political involvement.
  16. Ensure that the Borough’s reputation as having on the one hand the second highest average income in the country and on the other, pockets of severe poverty, is reflected by reinvestment in the community, such as supporting more children’s nurseries.
  17. Ensure that sensible, focused and appropriate business policies are introduced to foster dialogue with local big employers (e.g. at Canary Wharf) and small and medium-sized companies which have a key role of play in generating wealth and wellbeing. If we are serious about reviving ‘the high street’, then we must put a stop to victimising the customers of local shops through excessively punitive Tower Hamets council parking policies.
  18. Ensure the provision of impartial and useful information on council business to all Council taxpayers and stakeholders.
  19. Ensure that the government Commissioners, (paid by us), are encouraged to make the most useful contribution to a brand new system of government, especially in the management of grants.
  20. Ensure that a confidential “hotline” is established direct through to the mayor for anyone to raise concerns.
  21. Ensure that Tower Hamlets Council is transformed with the aim of it becoming known as the most effective and admired local authority in the country.

Three issues.

1. Undue spiritual influence, mosques and John Biggs

Tower Hamlets First (I’ll use this name for ease of reference for the time being although they’re banned from using it and in any case it may well be more appropriate to call them the party named in point 3 below) are trying to whip up a frenzy over a visit by John Biggs to a mosque in Roman Road, Bow, on Friday.

It was caught on video here:

In it you can see Shibbir Choudhury, the mosque’s secretary, welcoming John and informing people that he had committed to make Sirajul Islam his deputy mayor if he wins on June 11. Choudhury appears pleased about this and remarks that John was also responsible way back when for helping the East London Mosque get planning permission. This, he says, was a good thing. For that reason he says “we need to support him”.

John says immediately that he doesn’t think “it’s right for anybody to be invited to support a particular candidate in a mosque”. He says, “I’m a Labour candidate and I want you to look into your hearts and vote for whoever you think is the right candidate”.

THF have leapt on this to yell “double standards”, a cry that is fast becoming the new “racist/Islamophobia” tag of this particular campaign. In this they have perhaps been egged on by Giles Fraser, a former official of St Paul’s Cathedral who a few years ago wrote a nice piece about the borough while sipping a glass of red wine in a pub across the way from the East London Mosque, and then landed a job from Lutfur as the chair of the Tower Hamlets Fairness Commission.

Since then he has been one of Lutfur’s most high profile supporters. In the few weeks since the Election Court judgment he has uttered not a word about six of the guilty verdicts but written hundreds about the other one: undue spiritual influence. I suppose as a priest that’s his area of specialism, although it’s perhaps sadly doubtful in this day and age that he would ever experience that himself.

His arguments on this subject have included it’s his human right to express political views. I’m not a lawyer, but I think Richard Mawrey QC’s judgment was more subtle and more complex than that. Bluntly, Mawrey concluded Lutfur had enlisted the chair of the Tower Hamlets Council of Mosques, Shamsul Haque (an unreliable witness, according to the judge) to secure a letter of support from 101 imams. This letter, Mawrey said, came amid a “substantial body of credible evidence that the Imams’ message that it was the duty of faithful Muslims to vote for Mr Rahman”.

Mawrey conceded that his judgment would be controversial, and it is. And I’m sure it’s also confusing to those who can’t be bothered or who are unable to comprehend it in full and understand the context.

In short, Biggs’s visit and the words of the mosque secretary do not in any way compare with the Election Court example. That said, the THF people will be free to challenge it in an election petition should Biggs win on June 11.

However, the episode was enlightening. It shows how politicians do feel the need to visit the mosques to secure votes. I wonder if any ever visit churches on Sundays for their campaigning?

As a result of Friday’s incident, Biggs has decided to cancel all further visits to mosques at times of worship. Here’s a statement he sent me yesterday:

“Tower Hamlets First are a party devoid of principles and morals – this was well established in the court case. Although they now have to describe themselves as ‘independents’ it looks like nothing has changed. Once again they [have] tried to smear me after I visited a mosque before Friday prayers. It adds to the importance, if any more reason were needed, for the borough to move on from this sort of abuse and I hope we will on June 11.

“After yesterday’s attempted smear by THF I have also decided that I will not accept invitations to speak in any of the borough’s mosques or other places of worship at times of worship between now and June 11. This is both to avoid any misrepresentation of me and also to avoid any of our places of worship being dragged into the election campaign. They should always have an independence and dignity separate from daily politics. I have always respected this but clearly my opponents do not.

“I would of course be happy to meet with representatives from places of worship who, quite rightly, may want to hear from me as the election approaches on issues of interest to them and their members.”

2. Leafletgate

Mark Baynes, who runs the Love Wapping blog, has done some excellent, good old-fashioned on-the-ground reporting.

This account of his here is a must read.

Mark lives on the Green Bank estate in Wapping and noticed yesterday that a man was distributing Tower Hamlets Homes leaflets. It’s assumed this man was acting for Tower Hamlets Homes, which is the council’s arms-length housing body on which Rabina Khan’s election agent Ghulam Robbani sits as a board director.

But it wasn’t just THH leaflets he was delivering to people’s homes: he was giving lucky residents a Brucie Bonus in the form of Rabina4Mayor leaflets as well. Clearly, this has the potential to be a serious issue and a possible breach of election law.

Mark quickly got out his iPhone and recorded the guy at work. Here’s his video:

And here are Mark’s stills of the leafleter.

Mark quite rightly reported it to the police immediately and they told him they are looking into it. The man has not yet been identified, but Mark has preserved many of the leaflets for forensics.

Both Rabina Khan and Oliur Rahman took to Twitter to say they’ve been “framed”, that it is all a stitch-up and the result of dirty tricks. They also have informed the police. They have not yet said who they think is responsible but one can only assume they think it’s their political opponents.

The police are sure to get to the bottom of it, but I must say, even by Tower Hamlets’ standards it really would be a very thick dirty tricks campaign: Mark Baynes has been known to photograph questionable Tower Hamlets Homes leafleters there before.

Richard Mawrey in his judgment made some important points about who were Lutfur’s agents in the wider legal sense in the 2014 campaign. If this leafleter is a Rabina supporter, her team would have to show he was rogue and acting alone. Both he and they would have to explain how he got hold of hundreds of her leaflets.

This could be a significant issue. If anyone recognises the leafleter, please email me (please do not name him in any comments on this blog).

 

3. The return of Rob Hoveman

Rob Hoveman

 

Rob, the man in the middle (a rare place for him), has been George Galloway’s very left leaning right hand man for a decade. Between 2005 and 2010, he ran Galloway’s constituency office in Club Row and then moved up to Bradford, where he had a holiday home, when George found another seat for a while.

He’s a phenomonally good operator and loathes Labour with the same passion that he has for classical music and Hornby trains.

Following the collapse of the Bradford Spring last month, Rob, who lives in Bethnal Green, might well be in search of a new job. He knows his way around the town hall, having once been Respect’s part-time political adviser at Mulberry Place. I wonder whether he could be the next Murziline Parchment as a possible head of Mayor Rabina’s office.

If so, watch this space for Abjol Miah, the only Respect councillor he had any real time for.

Firstly, thank you to the new wind blowing through East End Life (and to the reader who spotted it) for providing me with a new banner photo for this blog. Historic.

Secondly, good luck to all the candidates for the bust-up on June 11. Peter Golds was selected as the Tory candidate on Monday after a hustings at the Bow Belles pub in Bow Road. He secured 33 votes against seven for the only other candidate Ahmed Hussain. Ahmed’s pitch was that the Tory party needed to show more that it can and does reach out to the Bengali community. It’s worth noting that he’s taken much flak from people he had considered friends for siding with the Conservatives and he has played an important role in recent events over at the Royal Courts of Justice. Fortune favours the brave.

This is the full list of candidates as per the close of nominations on Thursday afternoon:

Screen Shot 2015-05-16 at 10.59.20

The candidates in the post-Alibor Choudhury Stepney Green by-election are:

Stepney Green

[Abu Chowdhury is the neo-Tower Hamlets First candidate. His LinkedIn profile is here. He used to be a caseworker in Lutfur’s office, his dad is a boss at the notorious London Bangla ‘newspaper’  , and worst of all he appears to be a Chelsea supporter. Anyway, good luck to him.]

Thirdly, over the coming days, Andy Erlam, John Biggs and Rabina Khan will be writing articles here explaining why they’re standing and what improvements they’d like to make to the way the council is run in the wake of the Lutfur Rahman eviction. Rabina’s article will hopefully explain why she’s insisting she’s not a “puppet” of Lutfur Rahman and very much her own woman, yet at the same time plastering his face all over her election leaflets (and engaging the dodgy invoice writer Cllr Ghulam Rabbani as her election agent, and appearing to fail to disclose who is promoting her leaflets and her campaign website):

rabina khan

 

Fourthly, there seems to be something of an edit war going on over Rabina Khan’s Wikipedia page. It’s had an awful lot of attention this month and as a result, it has this warning at the top:

Screen Shot 2015-05-16 at 11.06.39

 

There is a discussion about this among the Wikipedia editors here. One editor has questioned whether she, as a mere councillor, is actually “notable” enough to have a Wiki page.

The neutrality warning works both ways of course: it can apply as a warning to her or her supporters, for example, or to her enemies. Either way, over the past two weeks entries that have been critical of her have been added and removed several times.

The edit warring has been taking place, not surprisingly, over the section ‘Political career’. As of Saturday morning (today), this is how it stood:

Rabina 1 Wiki

 

ie

Electoral corruption

In April 2015 following the discharging of office of the former Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman, Khan along with the remaining 17 Tower Hamlets First councillors were all named by Commissioner Richard Mawrey QC as being elected to Tower Hamlets Council as a result of corrupt and illegal practices.

At various other times references to her husband Cllr Aminur Khan’s association with the IFE have been added and deleted.

The same also applies to the taxi bills that Rabina racked up and which were later reported here on this blog. The following sentence has made its way on to the Wiki page, only to be deleted repeatedly within hours:

taxis

ie

In February 2013 Khan was widely critized for her use of taxi’s at taxpayer’s expense whilst apparently undertaking duties as a councilor. On one occasion Khan billed the taxpayer for £120 for a journey of just 1.5 miles.[20]

The reference number 20 at the end of that sentence is to the piece I wrote on this blog in 2013. Despite those figures coming directly from council papers, a Wikipedia editor stated that wasn’t a strong enough source and deleted the entry.

All this can be seen in the Revision History of Rabina’s wiki page here. In total, there have been 65 edits since April 25 when it was clear that Rabina would become Lutfur’s nomination.

So who’s been behind all these edits?

The revision history gives us a few IP addresses. One, which has been adding in some of the critical stuff, ie 91.213.110.4, is Tower Hamlets council IP address. So this is someone who works there. This IP address also matches an account called A Wikia Contributor at the London Birders Club. And on Wikipedia, this IP address has also been responsible for deleting information from the Wikipedia page of Labour councillor Shiria Khatun. I don’t know who this is and the IP address has never left a comment on this blog.

A couple of the other IP addresses listed on the revision history as having added in critical sections about Rabina also match IP addresses that have left comments on this blog before. Again, I don’t know the real names behind these people.

One of the most active critics has been a Wiki user called OneTowerHamlets, whose IP address details do not appear. Perhaps someone can help me with that.

Those who have been deleting the critical comments on Wikipedia fall into two categories: responsible Wiki editors who are trying to determine what’s accurate or not, e.g. PatGallacher; and those who have only a very recent Wikipedia editing account. One of those falling into the latter category complained that the taxi fares were being cited from a blog. They suggested this was against Wikipedia rules. Seems a silly rule to me. This same user was warned by another Wikipedia regular that their IP address appeared to be “very close to the individual in question”, ie Rabina.

The mystery of it all, eh? Politicos seem obsessed with editing Wikipedia. Such strange people.

Interestingly, of the challengers from the two other main parties in Tower Hamlets, only John Biggs has a Wikipedia entry. It’s small and straightforward (could make a Biggs campaign logo that possibly…).

John Biggs wikipedia

Peter Golds, meanwhile, appears in another person’s Wiki entry – that of Norma Major. Here:

Norma Major

I wonder if Peter could persuade Sir John Major to bring his soap box for a bit of campaigning.

Meanwhile, tomorrow it’s the Boishakhi Mela in Victoria Park. Le merde could be about to hit the fan on the running of that event…again. The Commissioners at a public meeting at the town hall this week decided to reject a £75,000 request for a council grant/subsidy because they were unhappy that fully audited accounts had not yet been provided for previous years and because of concerns the Mela was becoming too much of a commercial venture.

The man behind the Mela of course is our old friend, Shiraj Haque…Lutfur Rahman’s backer. He lost control of it in 2007 following a damning audit report commissioned by then council chief executive Martin Smith (would he ever return??) and then leader Denise Jones. After Lutfur became Mayor, Shiraj was able to take charge again (with the blessing of Stephen Halsey).

In the past couple of years, the trust/charity that runs the Mela (let’s see if the Charity Commission have a closer look at that arrangement) had more luck with its grant applications. In 2012, Lutfur gave it £180,000, in 2013 £170,000 and last year £100,000. The latter two amounts came from the infamous £954k slush fund identified by the PwC auditors last year.

The Commissioners will no doubt be blamed by some if as a result the Mela trust falls into the red, but good for them for being tough. Senior officers should have had more balls in the past.

The Mela is a great event and it’s right that it’s given the use of Victoria Park for free (a cost worth £25,000). The problem is with the people running it. I’m sure it’s not just me who’d like to see a full forensic audit carried out. Perhaps the council should just run it entirely again. After all, Sir Robin Wales runs a successful Mayor’s Day in Newham every year.

Meanwhile, the council continues to deflect any questions over scrutiny.

Here’s a Freedom of Information request that I asked on this earlier this year.

FOI 11843 Boishakhi Mela 

Please supply all documentation, but primarily third party invoices, provided by the trust responsible for the Boishakhi Mela to support /justify its receipt of council money. I’d also like to see the trust’s detailed accounts. This request relates to four years: 2011-14. For example, in the case of the security company used for Mela, I’d like to see all invoices submitted by the hired contractor. I’d like to see the results of any council post-audit of its grants to the mela for each of those years. 

Response 

In 2011 the Mela was run by the council and there is therefore no trust involved or information falling under the scope of this request. 

For 2012 and 2013, invoices are held by externally commissioned auditors and we have asked for these to be provided to us. I will contact you once they are received. The invoices for 2014 are not yet collected. 

The audit report for 2012 has been completed and is held by the Council However the Council is of the view that this is exempt from disclosure under section 41 of the FOI Act 2000, as information provided in confidence. The audit report disclosure would constitute a breach of confidence actionable by the author of that information. The Terms of Business under which the report was commissioned stipulate that that the report is confidential and for the exclusive use [of the Council] and must be used solely, for the purpose described in the Engagement Letter. Disclosure of the audit report would, therefore, constitute an actionable breach of confidence and the Council could be subject to claim for breach of contract as such. Section 41 is an absolute exemption. 

It is also considered that section 40(2) would also be applicable to parts of the audit report as it contains personal data. 

The requested information is (or contains) the personal data of other people. Section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act sets out an exemption for third party data if disclosure of the information to a member of the public otherwise than under FOIA would contravene any of the data protection principles. 

The first data protection principles states that we can only disclose the personal data if to do so would be fair, lawful and meet one of the conditions in Schedule 2 of the DPA. 

This means that, if the disclosure would not be fair, the information must not be disclosed. It is considered that the provision of this information would not be fair as the person it relates to would not expect the information to be released in this way. This is an absolute exemption and the information cannot be provided to you. 

Furthermore, the Council is of the view that it’s disclose is also exempt under Section 43 as its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of the Trust, auditors and the Council. This is because the report contains detailed information relating to the governance structure and accounting/banking arrangements of the Trust. It could, in our opinion, be prejudicial to the Trust’s commercial interests if this information was disclosed to a third party. Appendix 2 to the Report contains the Auditors Engagement Letter and thus sets out the confidential terms on which they agreed to perform the services for the Council. It contains details of the fee, engagement team and other terms of engagement. Such information is commercially sensitive and in the hands of a competitor is likely to cause prejudice in terms of tendering for future work. 

This is a qualified exemption, and in considering the Public Interest the Council has weighed up the factor in favour of disclosure which are: 

• further the understanding of, and participation in the debate of issues of the day; 

• facilitate the accountability and transparency of public authorities for decisions taken by them; 

• allow individuals to understand decisions made by public authorities affecting their lives and, in some cases, assist individuals in challenging those decisions; 

On the other hand, the council has considered 

* the impact on the commercial interest of Trust, auditors and the Council 

* the need to obtain value for money which is likely to be compromised by disclosure 

* the audit offers scrutiny and accountability to the process in accordance with the contract 

I am sorry but based on these three exemptions we are unable to disclose the information requested 

The 2013 audit is yet to be completed and the 2014 audit has not yet commenced. 

The Trusts detailed accounts are not held by the Council and are the property of the Trust. You can access their published accounts at Companies House 

UPDATE May 1: I’m taking a break from blogging for a few days. Have fun.

The walls continue to cave in. Everyone knows by now of the three major developments today. In chronological order:

1. Rabina Khan was being offered the chance to stand as the Tower Hamlets First candidate, causing a row within the ‘party’ about how Lutfur Rahman took that decision.

2. Eric Pickles announced a full takeover of Tower Hamlets council via his Commissioners, of whom there are now four. [Today, Chris Allison, a former senior Scotland Yard policeman (profile of him here), and Alan Wood, a former children’s service director at Hackney (profiled here), were also appointed. Their backgrounds raise the question of whether more serious alarm bells have started to sound about aspects of the council.]

3. The Electoral Commission, following the Mawrey judgement, have banned Tower Hamlets First as a political party. Whether the existing THF councillors can still call themselves the THF group is another question. Certainly they’re still listed as such on the council website.

So Rabina Kahn, if she accepts Lutfur’s offer, will have to stand under another banner or as in independent. It’s inevitable that the police will take a keener than usual interest in how any campaign is funded.

As for who she might face, I’m asking all major candidates to write for this blog to outline the reasons why they’re standing and to give some flavour of their manifestos.

Cllr Peter Golds, who has applied to stand for the Tories and who by far has been the main figure scrutinising Lutfur all these years, was the first to reply.

Here’s his piece:

Peter-GoldsBy Peter Golds

Tower Hamlets has become an authority immersed in secrecy and damaged by corruption.

One way to stop corruption is to ensure that the council is transparent. If I were Mayor then the two-way mirrors surrounding the Mayoral offices would go. I have no fear of the taxpayer knowing who I meet and when.

East End Life, with its endless propaganda, will go.

Cabinet will be reduced in size; it can be ten members but that is not a necessity. I will invite all the party leaders and the chair of Overview and Scrutiny to attend as ex-officio members, with full access to papers and the right to contribute at meetings.

Cabinet will meet around the borough and public participation will be encouraged. Only the most confidential material will be heard in secret and for that a good reason will need to be given.

As Mayor I will answer all questions from councillors and the public over matters for which I have direction. Reports from Overview and Scrutiny will be referred to council and I will respond to those. The “human rights” excuse for silence will never be repeated.

Over the next three years I will hold a question and answer session in every ward of the borough. Unlke Lutfur Rahman, I have no fear of the electorate and would relish meeting the voters.

The Mayoral “Town Hall parking space” will also go. I have my own small car and an oyster card – they are sufficient for me to get around the borough for meetings, at my own expense.

  • The Mayor’s office staff will be drastically reduced and you, the taxpayer will know who they are and what they do.
  •  The Chief Officer will be responsible for managing staff, who will be expected to deliver policy. It will not be my job to manage staff. Devising and promoting policy will be the job of the Mayor. The Chief Officer will be responsible for directing and managing staff.
  • On Day One I will examine the detailed financial outlook for the next three years. I will then be able to decide where resources should be directed.
  • I will revisit the Local development Framework. Tower Hamlets has too much overdevelopment and a lack of joined up thinking.
  • New development requires new schools, medical facilities and improved transport, and this will be an integral matter in planning policy.
  • I support the proposed Planning Forum for the Isle of Dogs and will promote these elsewhere in the borough.
  • Tower Hamlets Homes needs to be restructured and the first stage will be for an Independent Board, to be run arms length from the council and not an extension of Tower Hamlets First.
  • I will meet regularly with the other RSLs and expect them to join me for open meetings with their tenants and leaseholders.
  • The Rahman regime has seen the borough isolated from our neighbours and statutory service deliverers. Tower Hamlets is a proud part of London and any administration led by me will be outward looking and fully engaged with our neighbours.
  • Our schools have seen marked improvement over recent years. I will ensure that this continues and that there is a full range of varied school provision for future generations.
  • The recent situation of parents attending the council over nursery closures whilst the Mayor carried on squandering money on his personal vanity projects was a scandal. This will not happen under any administration that I lead.
  • The Rahman administration’s treatment of our elderly and vulnerable has been wrong and I will ensure that this changes with adequate provision where necessary.
  • Island Gardens, Victoria Park and Bethnal Green Gardens, are just three of our open spaces that have been neglected by Tower Hamlets First. They are part of our heritage; all our open spaces will be audited and a scheme of improvement will be devised. Local people love their parks and they will be consulted and involved in the improvements.
  • Just as we saved Bancroft Library, Old Flo, another icon of the East End, will not be sold to an oligarch. I will make every possible effort to bring Old Flo back home.

Tower Hamlets has a vast budget, provided entirely by the taxpayer. Much of this is ring fenced, however managing this brings responsibility. An outward transparent administration, unafraid to face critics and learn from mistakes will help restore the battered reputation of this authority.

This is my manifesto to bring this transparency to fruition with a fresh start which will wipe the slate clean and restore good governance to our great borough.

Rabina_KhanFurther to this post last night, I understand from sources close to Lutfur Rahman that Cllr Rabina Khan is to be offeees the chance of being Tower Hamlets First’s candidate for mayor in June’s election.

She may well speak at the Water Lilly rally on Thursday night.

Lutfur’s camp are expecting some fall out from this decision. They know there is anger about the way this decision has been made, ie by Lutfur’s “kitchen cabinet” whose number includes of course Rabina’s husband, Cllr Aminur Khan.

They think it could even precipitate a number of THF councillors to break away from the “party” and speak out about how Lutfur has been conducting affairs. Some think Rabina is easier to control. So watch this space on that one.

Now that Oli Rahman has been overlooked, I suspect he may not feel the acting mayor role for six weeks is worth his job at the DWP. Read last night’s post for details on that.

This means he would have two options. He could quit as deputy mayor and thus acting mayor and thus leave it to someone else to nominate who should act as mayor until June 11. Clearly, Lutfur would like that person to be Rabina to boost her profile.

Or he could nominate a deputy before he resigns and that person could become acting mayor. He may appoint former deputy mayor Cllr Ohid Ahmed to that role.

I think Richard Mawrey QC’s aside that the governance of Tower Hamlets may need further examination will prove prescient.

As for Rabina, I’ll copy and paste below what I wrote about her last night, but she and her husband will now come under closer scrutiny, particularly him. He is said to be IFE and works for the Bangladesh Youth Movement, which has received large amounts of grant money from Tower Hamlets council. See Love Wapping’s blog here. Someone can add it up for me.

Rabina’s financial history with public money will also be exmained (we all know about her £120 taxi fare for a 1.5 mile trip). She has a directorship with Silisila Productions Ltd, a not for profit company which received a £30,000 grant from the council via the Government’s Prevent counter-extremism programme.

The money was used for a media engagement and arts project. If anyone has more details on attendance details and how that scheme was audited, please let me know. The grant is detailed here.

She also had a company called Monsoon Press, which was dissolved in 2011. Any more on that, please get in touch.

This goes for all companies associated with all mayoral candidates.

Here’s what i wrote last night.

Oli is not IFE. And neither actually is Rabina. However, she is helped in this respect by the position of her husband, Cllr Aminur Khan, who is. She is known to disagree with the IFE on many things and I’d be surprised if this hasn’t created lively conversations around the Khans’ dining table.

Rabina is seen by a section of younger Bengalis as bright, articulate and refreshing. She apparently knows how to charm on the doorstep, how to enter people’s homes and “have a cup of tea in the kitchen”, as someone put it to me last night. I suspect that were she to be selected there would be many in Labour’s camp who would say they were supporting John Biggs but who would not cast their vote for him.

But would she be the puppet that Lutfur would want while he fights to clear his name, or even after he fails in that task? What real experience does she have in running a large organisation? I’ve always thought her quite good in the council chamber when reading a prepared script. However, I’ve not seen too much evidence that she’s good at thinking on her feet. But I may be wrong.

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