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Archive for December, 2012

Just when I thought those Hitler Downfall parodies were becoming a bit passé, some genius has come up with a Lutfur Rahman/Tower Hamlets version.

It has Mayor Lutfur as Hitler ranting about the Boundary Commission’s proposal to drop the Banglatown ward name.

Lutfur’s Three Stooges, Gulam Robbani, Ohid Ahmed and Maium Miah, all get it in the neck for failing their master. And I love that at 2mins in Lutfur reveals one of the roots of his rage, that he will become a laughing stock on this blog, a blog run by a working class wannabe-upmarket-urban-rat-low-life.

Hat tip to the commenter Spike on the last post for alerting me to this. Enjoy it as a light-hearted piece for the holiday and in the meantime a Merry and peaceful Christmas to everyone.

 

 

 

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Google the definition of “racism” and the following is returned:

1. The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as…

2. Prejudice or discrimination directed against someone of a different race based on such a belief.

Five former Labour councillors who were expelled from the party after they defied the whip and joined Mayor Lutfur Rahman’s cabinet should reflect on this.

It is a powerful word, so it would be wise to keep it that way. Lutfur’s councillors have developed a disturbing and unhealthy habit of chucking it around so freely and without thought that it loses its bite.

Here’s a press release issued by Mayor Rahman last week:

From Office of the Mayor of Tower Hamlets

For immediate release – 13 December 2012

Independent Councillors condemn Joshua Peck’s “Labour” for double standards

Selective application of rules undermine Ed Milliband’s ‘One Nation’ message

Five Bangladeshi Councillors expelled from the Labour party say that the ruling stinks of a stitch up.

All five were expelled for working with non-Labour candidates in local elections but two deny the charge and the others have cited several other examples where doing the same has not led to any disciplinary consequences.

None of the Councillors attended their appeals, instead submitting written statements.

Cllr. Abdul Asad, who serves in Independent Mayor Lutfur Rahman’s cabinet, has served as a councillor for 23 years, 22 of them with Labour, said: “Labour Peer Lord Alan Sugar used a column in the Murdoch press to openly campaign for Boris Johnson against Labour, but no action was taken.

“Journalist and Labour member Dan Hodges did the same in his column in the Telegraph but again no expulsion.”

“We have evidence that in Middlesborough many local party members have campaigned for Independent Mayor Ray Mallon against their own party in three separate elections without any consequences. Indeed, direct complaints to the local and regional leadership fell on deaf ears. So why are five Bangladeshi councillors being expelled by Joshua Peck and his ruling clique, when others get off without even a slap on the wrist?”

Cllr. Shahed Ali, who also serves on Mayor Rahman’s cabinet added: “My appeal was based upon fact.  The party ‘auto-expelled’ me, citing the only reason being a breach of Clause 2.1.4.B of the party rules.  If this is the case, then my question is simple, why has this rule not been applied to the likes of Sir Alan Sugar, Dan Hodges and Ken Livingstone?

“Unfortunately, it has become obvious to me by these actions that elements of institutional racism and discrimination are still entertained within the Labour party”.

One of the expelled five, Cllr. Rofique Ahmed said: “I deny this charge. I did not campaign for a non-Labour candidate. I am engaged in legal action to fight this accusation.”

Shahed Ali needs to grow up and concentrate on campaigns against genuine racial discrimination. He was kicked out of Labour because he broke the rules during a very acrimonious split in which the leadership was determined to send a clear message. It was the same message that deterred Marc Francis from crossing the Rubicon: Marc toyed with the idea of joining Lutfur but knew it would be the end of his political career with Labour.

Shahed is right, however, to question why the party didn’t discipline Ken Livingstone over his campaigning for Lutfur. But isn’t it significant he doesn’t also ask why it failed to take action over Lord Nazir Ahmed’s open support for Lutfur during that campaign? I suppose that wouldn’t quite fit with his ‘racism’ argument though, would it?

No, I suspect the real reason he and others were booted out was because they weren’t important or good enough. But “institutional talentism” isn’t a phrase I’ve heard bandied around before.

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Separated by about 180 miles, the south Yorkshire town of Doncaster and Tower Hamlets don’t at first sight have that much in common. Both failed to become Diamond Jubilee cities this year and both have claims to historic Roman roads (although Tower Hamlets’s is characteristically dubious), and they each share notable industrial heritage. But apart from that, there’s little to link the two areas.

Except, of course, for their shambolic local politics.

In June 2010, then new Communities Secretary Eric Pickles completed a process started by his Labour predecessor John Denham by appointing a new chief executive for Doncaster council. The new man was tasked with mopping up the mess left by “15 years of poor governance and dysfunctional politics”.

It was the last time the Department for Communities and Local Government has intervened in a council’s affairs–and it is now seriously considering doing so again in east London.

The Doncaster decision was taken after the Audit Commission described the council as “failing”. Whitehall had already intervened in its children’s services department, but there were wider worries. In 2009, a controversial directly elected mayor was voted in. The relationship between Mayor Peter Davies (from the English Democrats, so a kind of ”independent”), and the majority Labour group became fractious, to say the least. It all came to head amid a deadlock between the warring parties over the appointment of a new chief executive…

Sound familiar?

Last Tuesday, Tower Hamlets held a confidential Extraordinary Council Meeting to try and appoint a Head of Paid Service. This position, which signs off the cheques, is a statutory role  normally performed by a chief executive.

But in Tower Hamlets, we don’t have a chief executive and there’s been a bit of a bunfight ever since Kevan Collins wisely bailed out in July 2011. A potted version of what happened next is probably needed, even for those who are more familiar with the saga.

Aman Dalvi, the director of regeneration was installed as the interim CEO and Mayor Lutfur Rahman was in favour of making his appointment permanent. However, the Labour group leadership was against this: they thought he was too close to Lutfur and that he wasn’t up to the job, so Dalvi was vetoed at a committee stage. The council then looked for someone else, but that process also failed.

So for the past few months, while the politicians fought among themselves, another council director, Stephen Halsey, has been acting as Head of Paid Service to prevent the town hall from going into default. At last Tuesday’s behind-closed-doors meeting, councillors voted to offer him a six month extension. However, within a couple of days, he had turned it down.

Five of Lutfur’s councillors have now triggered another confidential Extraordinary Council Meeting for this Thursday.

The issue has managed the impossible of making Tower Hamlets more of a laughing stock than ever before. So here’s what’s been going on.

After Dalvi was vetoed for the permanent position, he sued both the council and Labour group leader Josh Peck for what he claimed was a failure of process. Last week, I understand, that claim was settled out of court. I’m told that Dalvi has received an element of compensation and that the council has proposed to pay the legal costs for both him and for Cllr Peck. This bill is likely to be in the substantial thousands of pounds.

With his claim now settled, I understand that Aman is keen on getting the top job again–and so too is Lutfur. At last Tuesday’s meeting (scandalously timed to prevent Lutfur and his cabinet colleagues from attending the important annual staff awards dinner–see below), councillors were told only Mr Halsey had expressed an interest in being Head of Paid Service. However, behind the scenes Aman, who was close to settling his case, was also mulling re-entering the fray. With that knowledge, Lutfur’s group of independents tried to add his name to the list for a vote, but the three senior officers present–John Williams, the head of democratic services; monitoring officer Isabella Freeman; and finance director Chris Naylor–advised that was not possible.

As such, they now have to do it all over again on Thursday. I understand that Mr Naylor, an aspiring musician who will become the boss of the much saner Barnet council in February, is writing an “options” report for the evening. What he’ll suggest is not known, but if Aman Dalvi has officially declared himself, I’m fairly sure councillors will be asked to vote on his appointment. The stakes are getting high. Mr Naylor’s impending departure leaves a key position vacant and the anti-Lutfur camp believes Aman would too easily allow the Mayor to install his own person.

Lutfur’s crew, who accused the Labour leadership of racial discrimination against Aman after the last veto (Labour deny this), know there is a split in the majority group over this. If Labour vote against him, they will have to say why they don’t want him and that then risks further legal action.

Mr Naylor, who has just started his final working week, will probably have to offer a back-up plan. Mr Halsey might be persuaded to do it in an emergency. Quite why he declined last Tuesday’s offer is also not known for certain. Some think he’s been warned off, but there’s also a school of thought that he thinks Aman has been treated badly and deserves a fair stab at it.

And then there’s the nuclear option. I’ve written before that Eric Pickles and his senior team at DCLG have been monitoring Tower Hamlets very closely for quite some time now. They would intervene if they had the grounds to do so. And a council unable to appoint a Head of Paid Service could well be such grounds. In those circumstances, he could do what he did in Bradford and impose a top officer alongside a team of DCLG-appointed Commissioners; or he could go to the Local Government Association and ask them to nominate a Head of Paid Service.

A heavy-hitter from Whitehall would be in the perfect position to assess the wider situation in Tower Hamlets…and amass more evidence.

But who would they go to? Former CEO Christine Gilbert has just become acting head of Brent Council, so she’s out of the running. What a shame we don’t have someone like Derrick Anderson, the black chief executive of Lambeth council, available.

Meanwhile, in an illustration of how fraught this has all become, have a look at this following email exchange between Lutfur cabinet councillor Shahed Ali and Chris Naylor. Shahed is clearly not a happy bunny, and neither is Naylor. The exchange was triggered after John Williams sent councillors an email last Friday requesting their attendance for this Thursday’s meeting.

From: JohnS Williams
Sent: Fri 14/12/2012 7:37 PM
To: Abdal Ullah; ‘Abdal Ullah'; Abdul Asad; ‘mukitmbe'; Ahmed Omer; Alibor Choudhury; Aminur Khan; ‘khanaminur'; Amy Whitelock; Ann Jackson; Anwar Khan; Bill Turner; ‘; Carli Harper-Penman; Carlo Gibbs; ‘craigaston; David Edgar; David Snowdon; ‘; Denise Jones; Emma Jones; ”; Fozol Miah; ‘cllrgrthienel'; Gulam Robbani; ”; ‘harun.miah'; Helal Abbas; Helal Uddin; Joshua Peck; Judith Gardiner; Kabir Ahmedx; Khales Uddin Ahmed; Kosru Uddin; Lesley Pavitt; Lutfa Begum; Lutfur Rahman; ‘mdmaium'; Marc Francis; ‘cllr.mizan.chaudhury'; Motin Uz-zaman; Ohid Ahmed; ‘cllroliur.rahman'; ‘cllrpetergolds'; Rabina Khan; Rachael Saunders; Rajib Ahmed; ‘rajibahmed'; Rania Khan; Rofique Ahmed; Shafiqul Haque; Shahed Ali; ”; Shiria Khatun; Sirajul Islam; Stephanie Eaton; ‘Tim Archer'; ‘Zara Davis'; Zara Davis; Zenith Rahman; John Pierce
Cc: Stephen Halsey; Aman Dalvi; Isabella Freeman; Chris Naylor; Isobel Cattermole; Simon Kilbey; Takki Sulaiman; Kelly Powell; Laraine Clay; Anaclette Austrie; Dee Burnett; Matthew Mannion; Evelyn Akoto; Lynne Spillett; Theresa R Berecz; Murziline Parchment; Numan Hussain; Carole Saich; Lorraine Husbands; Beverley McKenzie; Ross Archer; David Courcoux; Patricia Attawia; Colin Hicks; Janet E Wood; Muhammed Uddin; Marie Geddes; Paul Harvey; Jean Waterson; Katherine Fleming
Subject: Extraordinary Council Meeting: Thursday 20th December 2012 at 7.00 p.m.

Dear Mayor and Councillors,

EXTRAORDINARY COUNCIL MEETING:  THURSDAY 20th DECEMBER 2012

Further to the decision of the Council on 11th December 2012 to invite Stephen Halsey to continue as Head of Paid Service for another 6 months, you may be aware that Mr Halsey has written to the Mayor and the Group Leaders to advise them that he has decided to decline the Council’s offer.

The Council is therefore currently without a Head of Paid Service and the Monitoring Officer has advised me that an Extraordinary Council Meeting must be called to seek to resolve this vacancy before the Christmas/New Year break.

The Speaker of the Council has also received a requisition from five Councillors in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 3.1.4, requesting an Extraordinary Council Meeting.

I therefore write to advise you that an Extraordinary Council Meeting will take place on Thursday 20th December 2012 at 7.00 p.m. and your attendance is requested at the meeting.

The summons and agenda for the meeting can be viewed at http://moderngov.towerhamlets.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=309&MId=4094&Ver=4 and hard copies are being delivered to all Members today. An officer report for consideration at the meeting will follow as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely,

John S. Williams

Service Head, Democratic Services

This is Shahed’s tired and emotional reply at 2am Saturday morning. (He’s really unhappy about having to earn his £24,000 allowance.)

From: Shahed Ali

Sent: 15 December 2012 02:08
To:JohnS Williams; Abdal Ullah; Abdal Ullah; Abdul Asad; mukitmbe; Ahmed Omer; Alibor Choudhury; ; Aminur Khan; Amy Whitelock; Ann Jackson; Anwar Khan; Bill Turner; ; Carli Harper-Penman; Carlo Gibbs; craigaston; David Edgar; David Snowdon; Denise Jones; Emma Jones; cllremmajones; Fozol Miah; cllrgrthienel; Gulam Robbani; ; harun.miah; Helal Abbas; Helal Uddin; Joshua Peck; Judith Gardiner; Kabir Ahmedx; Khales Uddin Ahmed; Kosru Uddin; Lesley Pavitt; Lutfa Begum; Lutfur Rahman; mdmaium; Marc Francis; cllr.mizan.chaudhury; Motin Uz-zaman; Ohid Ahmed; cllroliur.rahman; cllrpetergolds; Rabina Khan; Rachael Saunders; Rajib Ahmed; ; Rania Khan; Rofique Ahmed; Shafiqul Haque; shahedali;Shiria Khatun; Sirajul Islam; Stephanie Eaton; Tim Archer; Zara Davis; Zara Davis; Zenith Rahman; John Pierce
Cc: Stephen Halsey; Aman Dalvi; Isabella Freeman; Chris Naylor; Isobel Cattermole; Simon Kilbey; Takki Sulaiman; Kelly Powell; Laraine Clay; Anaclette Austrie; Dee Burnett; Matthew Mannion; Evelyn Akoto; Lynne Spillett; Theresa R Berecz; Murziline Parchment; Numan Hussain; Carole Saich; Lorraine Husbands; Beverley McKenzie; Ross Archer; David Courcoux; Patricia Attawia; Colin Hicks; Janet E Wood; Muhammed Uddin; Marie Geddes; Paul Harvey; Jean Waterson; Katherine Fleming
Subject: RE: Extraordinary Council Meeting: Thursday 20th December 2012 at 7.00 p.m.
Importance: High

Dear Mr. Williams and Ms. Freeman,

I wish to express in the strongest possible terms the incompetence of both Labour and Conservative group councillors, and officers for the weak advice and recommendations presented at the last Extra Ordinary Full Council Meeting.

First and foremost, it was absolutely inappropriate to have held this meeting on the night of the annual staff awards.  It is crystal clear that this was a pitiful and childish move by Labour group councillors to intentionally clash the two events so as to obstruct the Mayor and his Cabinet from attending this important awards ceremony.  As you are all aware, due to a reduced budget for the event, most non-executive members were excluded from the event along with a large number of staff members that otherwise have attended previously.  Especially due to the nature of the FC meeting being called to discuss staff issues, it was equally ridiculous that we could not even offer our gratitude in the success of our staff members going that extra mile in their respective duties.  We should without a doubt be ashamed of ourselves, particularly those members who were responsible for calling for this FC meeting knowing very well we also had the awards event taking place on the same night.

Secondly, the FC meeting itself was a complete shambles.  It was absolutely clear to any sensible person that having convened this extra ordinary FC meeting, which by the way does cost the council money in both resources and officer time, that Labour and Conservative group members are incapable of even making a concise decision!  I attempted in vain to ask for a point of clarification in order to try avoid a situation where we are forced to convene another extra ordinary FC meeting because it was obvious to me that the decision the Labour group were moving forward with would not provide a conclusion to the purpose of the meeting.  The Speaker of the council did not allow me to make my point, and Mr. Williams did not also allow me to rightly present my point of clarification prior to the shambles of a vote the Labour group forced upon this meeting.  What should have happened is that the recommendation that the Labour group voted for, should have been written or amended so as to allow an alternative course of action in the event that Mr. Halsey does not accept the invitation the recommendation ONLY sought to offer him.  If I was permitted to speak, rather than Labour group bullying the Speaker to abruptly pre-maturely moving to the vote, then perhaps we would not have been in this situation where another extra ordinary FC meeting is being convened due to the incompetence of Labour councillors.  This means more waste of resources and money in lieu of officer time, simply because we have a bunch of incapable idiots in Labour and Conservative groups, obsessed with their personal vendetta against individuals with no regard to wasting taxpayers money, particularly in times of austerity.  Furthermore, officers should have rightly pointed out the consequences of Mr. Halsey declining the offer the recommendation was seeking to achieve, and should have advised FC otherwise in order to avoid a re-run of what should have been easily resolved on the night without the need for another extra ordinary FC meeting on 20 December.

I wish for my comments as above to be recorded within the report or minutes of the FC meeting on 20 December, which unfortunately I will be forced to attend rather than celebrate my Birthday with my family.

Councillor Shahed Ali

Cabinet Member for Environment

c/o: Muhammed Uddin.

Councillor Support Team

Which certainly riled Mr Naylor who sent this email at 11am on Sunday:

From:  Chris Naylor

Sent: Sun 16/12/2012  11:14 AM

To:Shahed Ali; JohnS Williams; Abdal Ullah; Abdal Ullah; Abdul Asad; mukitmbe; Ahmed Omer; Alibor Choudhury; Aminur Khan; khanaminur; Amy Whitelock; Ann Jackson; Anwar Khan; Bill Turner; Carli Harper-Penman; Carlo Gibbs; craigaston; David Edgar; David Snowdon; ; Denise Jones; Emma Jones; Fozol Miah; cllrgrthienel; Gulam Robbani; harun.miah; Helal Abbas; Helal Uddin; Joshua Peck; Judith Gardiner; Kabir Ahmedx; Khales Uddin Ahmed; Kosru Uddin; Lesley Pavitt; Lutfa Begum; Lutfur Rahman; mdmaium; Marc Francis; cllr.mizan.chaudhury; Motin Uz-zaman; Ohid Ahmed; cllroliur.rahman; cllrpetergolds; Rabina Khan; Rachael Saunders; Rajib Ahmed;; Rania Khan; Rofique Ahmed; Shafiqul Haque;; Shiria Khatun; Sirajul Islam; Stephanie Eaton; Tim Archer; Zara Davis; Zara Davis; Zenith Rahman; John Pierce

Cc: Stephen Halsey; Aman Dalvi; Isabella Freeman; Chris Naylor; Isobel Cattermole; Simon Kilbey; Takki Sulaiman; Kelly Powell; Laraine Clay; Anaclette Austrie; Dee Burnett; Matthew Mannion; Evelyn Akoto; Lynne Spillett; Theresa R Berecz; Murziline Parchment; Numan Hussain; Carole Saich; Lorraine Husbands; Beverley McKenzie; Ross Archer; David Courcoux; Patricia Attawia; Colin Hicks; Janet E Wood; Muhammed Uddin; Marie Geddes; Paul Harvey; Jean Waterson; Katherine Fleming
Subject: RE: Extraordinary Council Meeting: Thursday 20th December 2012 at 7.00 p.m.

Dear Cllr Ali

I am very disappointed with the tone and content of this email. I understand that you are unhappy with the outcome of the Full Council meeting last week, but I hope with hindsight you will reflect that is was not appropriate to share your perceptions about officers or their advice in this manner to such as wide audience. Accordingly I would ask you to withdraw this email.

In the meantime, I will write to you individually and in detail about the specific points you have raised.

Kind regards

Chris

Chris Naylor

Corporate Director of Resources

I love the way people put “Kind regards” when they mean nothing of the sort…

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Much more detail about the 2011 Census has been released today and I tweeted earlier that the White British population in Tower Hamlets has fallen by some 12 percentage points since the last survey in 2001. Those who classified themselves as White British now make up about 31 per cent of the borough’s 254,000 population (79,000), compared with about 43 per cent a decade ago (84,000).

That was expected. Overall, when other white population groups such as eastern European are considered, the white population is now a minority in Tower Hamlets. It has fallen from 51.4 per cent in 2001 to 45.2 per cent in 2011.

At the same time, the Bangladeshi population has become the largest group by ethnicity (81,000 now versus 65,000 in 2001), but in percentage terms, it is smaller than a decade ago: 33.4 per cent in 2001 to 32 per cent in 2011.

This is largely because the overall population of Tower Hamlets has increased by some 48,000, the main driver of which appears to be those classifying themselves as White Other, eg Europe/US/Aus/NZ/Eastern Europe. In numbers terms, this category has increased from 12,825 to 31,550, and in percentage terms from 6.5 per cent in 2001 to 12.3 per cent now.

The Somali population also seems to have increased significantly, with the ‘Black African’ category tripling in size from about 3,000 to more than 9,000 in a decade.

Constructing a direct comparison between the two census exercises is tricky because some of the ethnic group category names have changed in the 10 years. For example, the 2011 data includes a new ‘White: Gypsy or Irish Traveller’ category, which 10 years ago would have been included in ‘White: other’ or ‘White: Irish’. There are similar changes around the way British Chinese seem to have been counted.

For that reason, I thought I’d post a couple of tables and then manipulate the categories to try and give a reasonable comparison.

Here’s the first table showing the 2011 Census date by group, in numbers and percentages:

 2011 Tower Hamlets
All categories: Ethnic group 254,096
Asian/Asian British: Bangladeshi 81,377 32.03%
White: English/Welsh/Scottish/Northern Irish/British 79,231 31.18%
White: Other White 31,550 12.42%
Black/African/Caribbean/Black British: African 9,495 3.74%
Asian/Asian British: Chinese 8,109 3.19%
Asian/Asian British: Indian 6,787 2.67%
Asian/Asian British: Other Asian 5,786 2.28%
Black/African/Caribbean/Black British: Caribbean 5,341 2.10%
White: Irish 3,863 1.52%
Black/African/Caribbean/Black British: Other Black 3,793 1.49%
Other ethnic group: Any other ethnic group 3,214 1.26%
Mixed/multiple ethnic group: Other Mixed 3,053 1.20%
Mixed/multiple ethnic group: White and Asian 2,961 1.17%
Mixed/multiple ethnic group: White and Black Caribbean 2,837 1.12%
Other ethnic group: Arab 2,573 1.01%
Asian/Asian British: Pakistani 2,442 0.96%
Mixed/multiple ethnic group: White and Black African 1,509 0.59%
White: Gypsy or Irish Traveller 175 0.07%

And here’s the 2001 data in the same format:

2001 Tower Hamlets
All 196,106
White: British 84,151 42.91%
Asian or Asian British: Bangladeshi 65,553 33.43%
White: Other White 12,825 6.54%
Black or Black British: Black African 6,596 3.36%
Black or Black British: Black Caribbean 5,225 2.66%
White: Irish 3,823 1.95%
Chinese or other ethnic group: Chinese 3,573 1.82%
Asian or Asian British: Indian 3,001 1.53%
Chinese or other ethnic group: Other ethnic group 2,312 1.18%
Asian or Asian British: Other Asian 1,767 0.90%
Mixed: White and Black Caribbean 1,568 0.80%
Asian or Asian British: Pakistani 1,486 0.76%
Mixed: White and Asian 1,348 0.69%
Mixed: Other Mixed 1,168 0.60%
Black or Black British: Other Black 921 0.47%
Mixed: White and Black African 789 0.40%

And here’s an attempt to compare between the two decades. With one exception, I’ve used the 2011 categories for the descriptions – I combined ‘White: Gypsy or Irish Traveller’ into ‘White: Irish’. And from the 2001 data, I combined the two Chinese categories into the 2011 ‘Asian/Asian British Chinese’ description. That left two categories in 2011 that don’t seem to have any easy equivalent in 2001 – ‘Other ethnic group: Arab’, and ‘Other ethnic group: Any other ethnic group’ – so I’ve just included them without any comparison to 2001.

(I can’t find a way in WordPress to paste this Excel table in the way I want to, so for an easier way to read it, click on the image below.)

2011 census data

2011 2001 Change
All 254,096 % 196,106 % Numbers % points % change in numbers
Asian/Asian British: Bangladeshi 81,377 32.0% 65,553 33.4% 15,824 -1.4% 24.1%
White: British 79,231 31.2% 84,151 42.9% -4,920 -11.7% -5.8%
White: Other White 31,550 12.4% 12,825 6.5% 18,725 5.9% 146.0%
Black/African/Carib/Black British: African 9,495 3.7% 6,596 3.4% 2,899 0.4% 44.0%
Asian/Asian British: Chinese 8,109 3.2% 5,885 3.0% 2,224 0.2% 37.8%
Asian/Asian British: Indian 6,787 2.7% 3,001 1.5% 3,786 1.1% 126.2%
Asian/Asian British: Other Asian 5,786 2.3% 1,767 0.9% 4,019 1.4% 227.4%
Black/African/Carib/Black British: Caribbean 5,341 2.1% 5,225 2.7% 116 -0.6% 2.2%
White: Irish/Irish Traveller 4,038 1.6% 3,823 1.9% 215 -0.4% 5.6%
Black/Af/Carib/Black British: Other Black 3,793 1.5% 921 0.5% 2,872 1.0% 311.8%
Other ethnic group: Any other ethnic group 3,214 1.3% 0.0% 3,214 1.3%
Mixed: Other Mixed 3,053 1.2% 1,168 0.6% 1,885 0.6% 161.4%
Mixed: White and Asian 2,961 1.2% 1,348 0.7% 1,613 0.5% 119.7%
Mixed: White and Black Caribbean 2,837 1.1% 1,568 0.8% 1,269 0.3% 80.9%
Other ethnic group: Arab 2,573 1.0% 0.0% 2,573 1.0%
Asian/Asian British: Pakistani 2,442 1.0% 1,486 0.8% 956 0.2% 64.3%
Mixed: White and Black African 1,509 0.6% 789 0.4% 720 0.2% 91.3%

So, what are the main headlines?

1. The overall population of the borough has increased by some 58,000 in 10 years, a rise of about 29.6 per cent, or 16 people a day.So, what are the main headlines?

2. The British Bangladeshi/Bangladeshi population is now the largest single group in the borough, but it has fallen as a percentage of the overall total;

3. The overall White population of Tower Hamlets is now a minority in the borough, comprising 45.2 per cent of the population.

4. The White British population is the only population group to have fallen in terms of actual numbers – by almost 5,000 (either through having left the borough, and/or deaths outweighing births);

5. The ‘White Other’ population has boomed. I suspect this is due to an influx of newcomers from Europe/eastern Europe and bankers from North America.

I’d imagine the EDL will be most disappointed with these figures. How frustrating for them to see that Bangladeshis aren’t exactly “over-breeding”. I wonder if instead the EDL will turn its fire on the ‘White Other’ population that seems to be fuelling the small boom in numbers.

Somehow, I doubt it.

Your observations are welcome…and please correct any glaring mistakes I’ve made! (Ethnic group breakdowns by age category are not yet available, I’m afraid.)

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Oh dear, it looks like Tower Hamlets council’s First Class director of schools and children has been at it again. Just a couple of months after I revealed she had spent £427.50 of our money travelling first class on a train to Manchester in July, we now discover more of her reluctance to mix it with the great unwashed who pay her £116,000 a year salary.

Another answer to a Freedom of Information request here reveals she was given a £216.50 first class ticket to Nottingham on September 7 to speak at a “London Leaders” conference for something called the Virtual Reference Group. I’ve no idea what that is.

There are many reasons why people like to travel first class. One of them is because they need somewhere quiet to work. That was the reason offered by George Osborne after he was caught out travelling in style last month. The Chancellor, of course, is the man being blamed by the likes of Isobel Cattermole and her council colleagues for cuts to children’s services.

Isn’t it a bit worrying that someone at her level seems happy to spend budgets on herself while cutting it for others?

After my Manchester revelations, councillors forced Ms Cattermole to repay the difference between the standard fare she was entitled to and the first class she took. During their searches, they also spotted this Nottingham train trip because she’s had to repay that too. For the record, a standard class fare (including a seat in the Quiet Coach where it’s also easy to work in peace) would have cost about £74.

Meanwhile, the trust FoI tool has also shed some light on other intriguing transactions.

For example, this invoice:

The Phoenix Luxury Co Ltd

That’s £1,260 each for three little silver pin badges awarded as a memento to those who have been the Speaker/ceremonial mayor for a year. Apparently, some then sell these gifts on eBay.

And then there’s this invoice:

Rada Enterpises

That’s £600 to the world famous acting college RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) on behalf of the last Speaker, Labour’s minicab king Cllr Mizan Chaudhury. Yes, that’s right £300 an hour. The council tells me he requested the training so he could improve his public speaking.

Well, it sure didn’t make him act better…

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250px-St_Dunstan_Stepney

Of the many joys of living in Tower Hamlets, one of the greatest is discovering and appreciating its historic gems. Take the ancient Church of St Dunstan and All Saints in Stepney, for example.

Anyone who hasn’t taken a look inside or strolled in its grounds is missing a treat. Its guidebook is fascinating, detailing how Dunstan, who was a Bishop of London and Archbishop of Canterbury and later canonised, dedicated the site as a church in about 952. It adds:

The church building took its present shape a little before Columbus sailed for the Americas. It is the mother church of the East End and with the ancient Port of London nearby became known as the Church of the High Seas. For this reason, the red ensign is still flown from the tower, which also houses the famous ten bells of Stepney, mentioned in the nursery rhyme, Oranges and Lemons – ‘when will that be, say the bells of Stepney?

Today, after somehow surviving the Blitz – the large stained glass window on the east wall shows Christ on the cross above a bomb-ravaged East End – not only is it famous among family researchers across the world, but it is also a lively parish church which engages with all walks of life in its community (next event, the Christmas Fair at Stepney City Farm on December 15, by way of free advertising!)

In short, the East End and its elected councillors should be proud of St Dunstan’s and be doing everything possible to preserve its place in our borough. After all, history is vital to our shared identity.

Which is why it’s a little surprising that amid all the fuss being made about the proposed dropping of two relatively artificial ward names (‘Lansbury’ from the East India and Lansbury ward and ‘Banglatown’ from Spitalfields and Banglatown), hardly a word has been said about the potential loss of ‘St Dunstan’s’ in the new Stepney wards.

If the recommendations from the Local Government Boundary Commission for England are accepted after the current consultation period ends on January 7, possibly the most famous parish name in the country will be removed from the electoral map.

Instead, the current St Dunstan’s and Stepney Green ward will, with the additions of various parts of Mile End and Globe Town and Whitechapel, become Stepney West and Stepney East.

This is Labour’s fault and I’m hoping it was an unintended consequence of trying to resolve a fairly complicated problem about changing population numbers. Whereas Mayor Lutfur Rahman, very much to his credit, and the Tories both recommended keeping St Dunstan’s, Labour wanted to create new wards to accommodate the vast Ocean Estate.

Here’s what the Labour Group wrote in its submission to the Boundary Commission:

Stepney West

77. A new Stepney West ward takes in part of the existing Whitechapel ward east of Sidney Street and an area from south of the A13, currently in Shadwell ward. Its southern boundary is Cable Street. The eastern boundary follows Butcher Row to the Commercial Road and then turns up Bromley Street and a short section of Stepney High Street to Ben Johnson Road. The northern boundary to the ward follows Stepney Green and then goes along Redman’s Road and north to Mile End Road.

78. This area is recognised as Stepney by local residents. It includes Stepney Green Park and the Sir John Cass’s Foundation and Red Coat School. It incorporates major housing estates including the Sidney estate and Clichy estate.

79. With two councillors, the ward would have three per cent more than the average electors per councillor in 2018.

Stepney East

80. A new Stepney East ward’s eastern edge is clearly defined by the strong border provided by the Regents Canal and Mile End Park. The northern boundary is the Mile End Road. The southern boundary follows that described above for the northern boundary for Stepney West ward. It then goes south down Bromley Street as far as southern edge of the park around St Dunstan and All Saints church and down White Horse Road as far as Salmon Lane. The boundary then follows Salmon Lane to the Regents Canal.

81. The new ward incorporates the Ocean estate in its entirety, an estate which is currently divided between Mile End and Globe Town ward – polling district MGT4 – and St Dunstan’s and Stepney Green ward. The estate has a very strong identity which was reflected in it being selected as a New Deal for Communities area under the last government. The estate has a strong residents association. It has a doctor’s surgery which is being refurbished and a children’s centre. The estate as a whole represents a catchment area for both of these facilities. Stepney Green secondary school is used by children from the estate and the shopping parades on White Horse Road and Ben Johnson Road, currently in different wards, are also used by residents from across the estate. The ward also includes the Limehouse Fields estate which is south of Ben Johnson Road.

82. With two councillors, the ward would have one per cent less than the average electors per councillor in 2018.

Here’s Lutfur’s submission:

6.8 St Dunstan’s and Stepney Green

The area covered by the current St Dunstan’s and Stepney Green ward constitutes a real community, bounded by Mile End Road to the north, Commercial Road to the south, and the Regents Canal to the east. Notable local landmarks that form part of the contemporary community identity include the Stepney Green conservation area, St Dunstan’s Church (founded in 923) and the Stepney City Farm.

However, the southernmost part of the current Mile End & Globe Town ward is also part of the St Dunstan’s/Stepney area. Just as nowhere north of Mile End Road or south of Commercial Road could be considered to be Stepney, this area in between these two unarguable boundaries is universally held to be part of Stepney. Indeed, prior to the last review, polling district MGT4 fell within the St Dunstan’s ward, and rightly so: residents in the area consider themselves to live in Stepney or St Dunstan’s, not Mile End. This polling district is dominated by the Ocean Estate, part of Stepney.

The two communities are divided by a major road, the A11, the integrity of which is preserved as a boundary between all other wards which fall on either side of this road. It seems nonsensical for Mile End & Globe Town ward alone to stretch over the A11 to include this part of Stepney.

Accordingly, I propose to include all of polling district MGT4 in the new St Dunstan’s and Stepney Green ward. When this polling district included, the numbers are ideal for a three-member ward.

And here is what the Boundary Commission concluded:

Stepney

77 The Labour Group proposed a two-member Stepney West ward and a two- member Stepney East ward. These wards were proposed to have an east–west orientation and were split along Bromley Street and Redman’s Road, uniting the properties along Stepney Green in the Stepney East ward. The Group argued that these arrangements maintained estates within the same ward and incorporated an area ‘recognised as Stepney by the local residents’. The Labour Group proposed that the southern boundary of its Stepney West ward should extend south of Commercial Road to Cable Street. However, the southern boundary of the Labour Group’s proposed Stepney East ward did not extend as far south as Commercial Road. Instead, the boundary proposed by the Group would follow the minor road of Salmon Lane.

1478 The Mayor and Conservative Group both proposed north–south arrangements which used Commercial Road as a southern boundary and split the Stepney area vertically. The Mayor proposed a boundary along Jubilee Street. The Conservative Group proposed that the boundary should use West Arbour Street. The Conservative Group argued that, although its boundary did ‘not follow any major road or dominant physical feature, this is the case at the moment also, and the proposed boundary does not divide any estates’. The Conservative Group argued that the current ward boundary along Jubilee Street – which was proposed by the Mayor – divided the Clichy estate. The Mayor did not provide any community evidence in support of his proposed boundary along Jubilee Street.

79 Having walked the area, we are of the view that the diverse estates and housing in Stepney are linked by Stepney Way, which runs east–west in the area. We are of the view that neither the Mayor nor the Conservative Group provided for strong boundaries in their submissions. We are further of the view that the Mayor’s proposal split a cohesive estate along Jubilee Street.

80 We therefore consider that the arrangement proposed by the Labour Group provides for strong east and west boundaries and keeps communities together within the Stepney area. However, we were concerned that the Group’s proposed southern boundary of Stepney West crossed the busy Commercial Road. To provide for both clear boundaries and reflect local communities, we therefore propose that the southern boundary for the Stepney West ward should run along Commercial Road. As a result of the recommendations for Limehouse (paragraph 57), we also recommend that the southern boundary for Stepney East should be Commercial Road.

81 As a result of these modifications, an electoral imbalance of -22% would result in the Stepney West ward. We therefore propose two further modifications to ensure improved levels of electoral equality in the ward.

82 Firstly, we propose that the north-east boundary of the Stepney West ward be extended to run along the backs of the properties on the east side of Stepney Green. This ensures that the houses along Stepney Green are not divided between wards. To the east, we propose to extend the ward’s eastern boundary to Belgrave Street, a road with housing consistent with much of the housing in Stepney West. For the remainder of Stepney West and Stepney East, we have decided to adopt the Labour Group submission without modification. As a result of our recommendation, the wards of Stepney East and Stepney West would have 5% fewer and 7% fewer electors than the borough average by 2018, respectively.

I’m hoping that the likes of Mayor Lutfur and the three current ward councillors, Independent Oli Rahman, and Labour’s Abdal Ullah and Judith Gardner (who spoke passionately about the need to preserve the borough’s heritage during a debate on the sale of Henry Moore’s Old Flo at last Wednesday’s council meeting), will now voice their concerns about this apparent oversight.

Of course, the work of St Dunstan’s and All Saints’ Church will continue regardless, but if we’re quite rightly (in my view) campaigning to preserve Banglatown on the political map for  heritage reasons, then surely we need to be consistent with a name that has a much longer history.

I’m not sure what the solution is, but what about the wards being called Stepney West, and Stepney East & St Dunstan’s?

Perhaps we need to start a petition for this. In the meantime, people can also protest to the Boundary Commission via this address: reviews@lgbce.org.uk .

UPDATE – Monday, 12pm.

Oliur Rahman, an Independent ward councillor for the area and a member of Mayor Lutfur’s cabinet, is backing the retention of the St Dunstan’s name. He told me on Twitter earlier that he would support a Stepney East & St Dunstan’s name.

I’ve posed the same question to the mayor and will be doing likewise with Labour councillors.

UPDATE – Monday, 9pm

Labour’s Abdal Ullah, another ward councillor for the area, has also been in touch to say he supports the retention of St Dunstan’s. He said: “As chair of the Labour Faith Network, I strongly support keeping the church name on the ward.”

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