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Archive for November 21st, 2012

Robin de Peyer of the East London Advertiser reports:

Plans to remove the electoral ward of Banglatown from Tower Hamlets have been slammed as “an attack on Bangladeshis” by Mayor Lutfur Rahman, who has threatened legal action to block them.

The Boundary Commission unveiled its draft proposals for a reduction in the number of councillors sitting in the Town Hall last week, adopting recommendations from Tower Hamlets council’s Conservative group to remove “Banglatown” from the title of the Spitalfields and Banglatown ward.

The proposals have been met with fierce opposition, from councillors from the independent mayor’s cabinet and Tower Hamlets Labour group.

Ward councillor for Spitalfields and Banglatown Gulam Robbani said: “Generations of the Bangladeshi community have historically settled and started businesses in the Brick Lane and Banglatown area.

“This Tory proposal is a smack in the face for thousands of Bangladeshis and non-Bangladeshis who have struggled and sacrificed to have Banglatown recognised in the map of Tower Hamlets.”

Mayor Rahman added that the council would consider a legal challenge to ensure the name is retained.

“Let me be absolutely clear; this decision to adopt a Conservative proposal is a disgrace,” he said.

“This is an attack on Bangladeshis, not only in this country but across the world, and I will do everything I can to retain the name Banglatown.”

Labour has also urged the Commission to drop the plans, insisting the name is an important symbol for the East End’s Bangladeshi community.

However, Conservative group leader cllr Peter Golds accused Mayor Rahman of “playing the race card”, and said that the Bangladeshi community is spread across the borough.

He added: “There will always be Banglatown on a map, but why should it be included in a local government ward name?

“There is no government ward in country that specifies a community. This is an abolsutely typical attempt to paint opponents as racist.”

Sigh.

How utterly depressing. The Tories suggestion to drop the Banglatown name is one of the poorest political moves I’ve seen in Tower Hamlets for quite some time.

To allow the egregious Gulam Robbani the chance to whip up more division and fuel the “great white plot” conspiracy theories that Lutfur Rahman used successfully in his 2010 election campaign is nothing less than stupid.

Here’s the somewhat hysterical press release the “One Tower Hamlets” mayor put out this week:

Mayor considers all options to save Banglatown
 
Lutfur Rahman, Mayor of Tower Hamlets reassured the Bangladeshi community across the country that all options are being considered including a legal challenge, if necessary, of the Boundary Commission’s proposed decision to drop Banglatown from the ward name Spitalfields and Banglatown.
 
A national outcry has ensued in the Bangladeshi community since the Commission’s proposal came to light last week.
 
Speaking to the waiting media on Brick Lane, in the heart of Banglatown, Mayor Rahman said:
 
“I have written to the Director of Boundary Commission with my objections; protesting in the strongest possible way and asking them to reverse their decision.
 
“Let me be absolutely clear. This decision to adopt a Conservative proposal is a disgrace. Banglatown is the spiritual home of Bangladeshis outside of Bangladesh.
 
“This is an attack on Bangladeshis, not only in this country but across the world, and I will do everything I can to retain the name Banglatown.”
 
Ward Cllr. Gulam Robbani, leading the Save Banglatown Campaign on behalf of the Mayor said:
 
“I urge everyone to sign the Save Banglatown petition, email or write to the Boundary Commission to show your disgust at this proposal, together we can reverse this decision.”
A “national outcry”? An “attack on Bangladeshis across the world”? Not among the Bengalis I know. They have more pressing concerns, for example wondering why Lutfur, who throws around grants to his friends in small community groups, seems to have cut down so heavily on road-sweeping services that dog dirt lies on pavements for fortnights at a time.
That said, the Tories need to lance this little boil – and quickly. Lutfur’s crew have started a petition to “Save Banglatown”. It’s great that we have a name which celebrates Bangladeshi culture in the borough.
A few years ago, Labour’s Abdal Ullah tried to get Shoreditch High Street station renamed Banglatown. He failed but he raised his profile politically and in that regard it was a clever move.
The Tories should admit it was a mistake, that they have listened, and call for the Boundary Commission to drop the idea.

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Tower Hamlets has a history of controversial stickers appearing in various public places.

I saw this one on a Boris Bike docking station in Southern Grove, Mile End, last week.

Discuss.

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