Archive for June 26th, 2010

Well, you have to admire his mischievous sense of humour. And his appetite for revenge.

On Monday, just a few days after Labour bosses told him to forget becoming a directly elected mayor, former Tower Hamlets council leader Lutfur Rahman will ask his comrade councillors to vote on a motion that they’ll find difficult to reject.

He not only wants them to limit the number of terms the mayor can serve to two (ie eight years), but also to cut the salary she or he will receive. He and his ally, Cllr Marc Francis, also want to limit the number of advisers the new mayor will be able to appoint.

Here’s the context. As town hall leader a couple of years ago, Lutfur, a partner in a law firm, voluntarily slashed his own council pay by around 25 per cent, from about £40,000 a year to something like £31,000. To show that community leaders are sharing the burden of public spending cuts, he wants the salary of the new mayor, who will be elected in October, to be five per cent even lower at just less than £30,000.

Over at neighbouring Newham, Labour’s Sir Robin Wales, who has just begun his third term as directly elected mayor, pays himself £81,029–approaching three times Lutfur’s allowance. As you can read in tomorrow’s Sunday Express, Sir Robin has also fostered much loyalty among his councillors by creating well-paid jobs for them. Lutfur says that practice should not be adopted in Tower Hamlets.

His proposals are partly designed to irritate mayor frontrunner John Biggs, who earns £53,000 as a London Assembly member, but there is much logic them. However, whatever one thinks of the role of directly elected mayor, it is a full-time job with far more responsibilities than a council leader.

And you can’t help feeling they would carry more weight if Lutfur hadn’t wasted £500,000 of our money by forcing out former council chief executive Martin Smith with a £300k pay-off, and, in 2008, hiring the obviously dodgy Lutfur Ali, who was eventually sacked from his £125,000-a-year post because he was caught moonlighting elsewhere.

I suspect the turkeys among Lutfur’s colleagues will decline to vote for Christmas and insist instead on having pay determined by an “independent” panel.

For your own amusement, I’ve copied below the email and motion Lutfur has sent out.

Dear colleague

As you will have seen from the agenda for Monday’s Labour Group meeting, i am bringing a motion introducing term limits on any Labour directly-elected Mayor and reducing the Special Responsibility Allowance for that post and other Cabinet positions.

This motion is itself fairly self-explanatory, but i will explain my reasoning in a little more detail on Monday.  I would obviously welcome your support for this motion, so please don’t hesitate to let me know if you any queries before then.



Motion – Directly-Elected Mayor

Proposed:            Cllr Lutfur Rahman

Seconded:            Cllr Marc Francis

This Labour Group notes:

  • The referendum result in support of a Directly-Elected Mayor and the election for this position will be held on 21st October;
  • That in other local authorities the introduction of an Executive Mayor in place of the Council Leader has resulted in an increase in the Special Responsibility Allowance (SRA) for that position;
  • That, as well as an Executive Mayor, Newham has 16 Cabinet Members and Mayoral Advisers, each in receipt of an SRA;
  • That some directly-elected Mayors are now beginning their third consecutive Term of Office;
  • The new Conservative / Lib Dem Coalition Government is expected to require around £10 million in “in-year” cuts from the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, as well as significant additional savings thereafter.

This Labour Group believes:

  • That it is important for the Labour Party and its elected representatives to take on the burden of any necessary savings before considering imposing cuts in frontline services;
  • A Mayor, Deputy Mayor and eight Cabinet members is a sufficient Executive body for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets;
  • George Washington and Thomas Jefferson had it right in establishing the convention of a two-term limit for the President of the United States, now enshrined in law by the 22nd Amendment.

This Labour Group therefore resolves:

  • To peg the SRA of the Directly-Elected Mayor for 2010/11 and 2011/12 at the current level of the SRA to the Council Leader less 5 per cent;
  • To peg the SRA for the Deputy Mayor for 2010/11 and 2011/12 at the current level of the SRA to the Deputy Leader less 5 per cent;
  • To peg the SRA for Cabinet Members for 2010/11 and 2011/12 at the current level of the SRA to Cabinet Members less 5 per cent;
  • To require that the Mayor appoint no more than one Deputy Mayor and eight Cabinet Members to serve on the Executive;
  • That no Labour Mayor should seek a 3rd Term of Office.

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