About a month ago, I tweeted this:
I didn’t think it was worth blogging about at the time because, well, I suppose everyone’s entitled to spend their hard earned cash how they like. But I did think I’d raise it if ever it became relevant.
And then today I saw this article by the excellent Robin de Peyer, of the East London Advertiser.
Whitechapel Sports Centre has been slammed by opposition councillors for displaying material promoting Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman in its foyer.
Labour councillors hit out after the discovery of leaflets in a traditionally impartial environment.
The development comes just weeks after Tower Hamlets Council was censured by Ofcom for using public money to take out television advertisements amounting to a party political broadcast promoting the Mayor.
The leaflets set out how Mayor Rahman is “delivering on his promises” despite government funding cuts.
Labour group leader Cllr Joshua Peck called on the sports centre to ensure such material is removed from its premises.
He said: “It is important that community facilities are not used to promote political parties.
“After we learned the Mayor wasted taxpayers’ money making illegal political adverts there is obviously a concern that this is yet another attempt to use resources to promote his political agenda.
“It is important that staff and management at leisure centres and other community facilities recognise the need to remain impartial and do not allow political leafleting like this”, he added.
Nobody from the sports centre, in Dunward Street, was available to comment.
But Tower Hamlets Council denied it was responsible for the distribution and production of the leaflets. A spokesman declined to comment on who produced the leaflets and how they came to be in that location.
“The council only promotes publicity materials containing public information about local services and activities”, he said.
“Our contractors have been asked to remain vigilant on the content of public display stands.”
So we have a publicly funded Mercedes-driving Mayor who is voting with his feet and eschewing the delights of his local council sports centre in Whitechapel by paying what is likely to be about about £115 a month membership of the luxurious and brilliant Virgin Active gym in Canary Wharf…but then having the cheek to use the lowly local to boast he’s making us all “better off”.
Well, I suppose he’s making the Whitechapel regulars better off by giving them more space to exercise (and that’s not even counting the groupies he takes with him: last Friday night, I also bumped into Cllr Gulam Robbani in the Virgin foyer).
One person I haven’t seen there yet is the England football fanatic Cllr David Edgar. He’s probably been too busy planning his strategy to become mayor. Today, he followed Rachael Saunders and John Biggs by announcing his candidacy for the Labour pick.
He issued the following press release, which significantly makes no attack on Lutfur…and that’s because he takes a softer approach than most in the Labour to the mayor. And that’s also one reason why he has the backing of Cllr Marc Francis in this contest. Respect chair Carole Swords will be delighted: for her, David was public enemy number one during the 2006-2008 Housing Choice when he was lead member for housing; while Marc was number two on her hit list, so much so she once lobbed a glass of water over him in the council chamber.
But I digress. Here’s David’s press release:
Councillor David Edgar today confirmed he will stand for selection to be the Labour candidate for Mayor of Tower Hamlets.
Speaking from his home in Limehouse, Cllr Edgar said: “Fifteen years of representing the people of Tower Hamlets has given me a deep understanding of the challenges and aspirations of our community. I know how keen young people are to go to college or university and get good jobs. I know how important a decent, affordable home is to everyone. I have a clear picture of what is needed to make residents’ lives better.”
Announcing his decision, Cllr Edgar said: “My experience as a campaigner and my commitment to local people make me a strong choice to be Labour’s Mayoral candidate. The unfair cuts to the Council’s funding by the coalition government mean that my wide experience of overseeing budgets is vital to protect our community from the impact of the cuts.”
Cllr Edgar concluded by saying that: “I will work to bring new jobs and homes to Tower Hamlets and I will encourage small businesses. I will be a champion for Tower Hamlets at City Hall and Westminster. Tower Hamlets can make progress on education, the local economy, the environment and healthcare. Improvements are not out of reach but strong and collaborative leadership is essential to achieve them. I can provide that leadership.”
Notes for editors:
Councillor David Edgar works as a Director at The Young Foundation – a charity based in Tower Hamlets. He is a qualified accountant. He was first elected to Tower Hamlets Council in 1994, and has been Lead Councillor for Housing, Lead Councillor for Resources and Deputy Leader of the Council. He lives in Limehouse, the ward he represents.