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Archive for December 6th, 2010

During Lutfur Rahman’s election campaign, strong suspicions lingered about who might benefit from his victory. Certainly, millionaire housing association tenant Shirajul Haque was one name mentioned. After all, I’m told by several sources that he bragged he had underwritten Lutfur’s legal fees during his High Court challenges against the Labour party (something Lutfur himself denies).

I suppose Shiraj is a generous soul: over the years he has also given money to the Labour party and offered cash to the Lib Dems. But as with many businessmen mixing in the political arena, I’m also sure he would want a pay back. And nothing would please him more than to regain control of the annual Baishakhi Mela, the cash cow festival attracting 100,000 visitors in Brick Lane and Weavers Fields every May. Control was removed from his a few years ago after council appointed auditors filed a devastating report about his organisation’s lack of financial control.

So it will be interesting to see who puts in bids and who wins the tender for two tenders that have just been advertised. One, here, is for the “production management” of the Mela on next May 8, the other, here, is for the “creation of the procession” for the Mela.

Here’s a flavour from the tender blurb from the former:

Expressions of Interest to Quote Contract number: CLC3895 Production Management: A Baishakhi Mela in Banglatown Brick Lane Sunday 8th May 2011 Introduction Tower Hamlets is seeking quotes for the Production Management of the annual Baishakhi Mela event. The Production Manager will be responsible for delivering a coherent event plan and risk assessment, site plans, contracting and managing site crew, site managers and safety staff and procuring site infrastructure for up to two sites. The Baishakhi Mela is an annual event celebrating the Bengal New Year with an attendance in the region of 100,000 people during the course of the day and across three main event sites: Brick Lane, Allen Gardens and Weavers Fields and linked via a series of closed roads. The event is one of the key community festivals in the borough and draws an audience from across the UK but focussed on the local Bangladeshi community. Now in its 14th year, the 2011 Baishakhi Mela will take place on Sunday 8th May. Criteria To be considered for this contract you must have relevant experience of managing similar large-scale outdoor community festivals (e.g. 20,000+ audiences) within an urban environment and have comprehensive Health & Safety documentation. Any company unable able to demonstrate this need not apply. Interested suppliers can express an interest via the Council’s e-tendering system (London Tenders Portal) which is free of charge and must allow sufficient time to register (at least 1 working day). Expressions of interest must be made on the following website: https://www.londontenders.org/procontract/supplier.nsf/frm_home?openForm Expressions of interest must be received by 2pm, 10th December 2010. Late expressions of interest will not be accepted. Suppliers who have expressed an interest will be sent quotation documents after the closing date for expressions of interest. The criteria for awarding this contract will be included in the request for quotation documents. The closing date for submitting completed quotation document is 2pm, 7th January 2011. The Council does not undertake to invite all applicants or bind itself to accept the lowest or any tender. The Council will not be liable for any costs incurred in tendering for this contract.

The other organisation whose name was mentioned heavily during of the grinding of the Lutfur rumour mill was Media Link. Many thought it had its eyes on winning more contracts for council publicity – it already has several – and perhaps even the star prize of helping to print and distribute East End Life.
A reliable Town Hall source told me some weeks ago that Media Link had upset some council officers by helping to publicise the official Mayor-making ceremony for Lutfur at the end of October. I was told they had been helping with invitations and the like.
It seems that Tory group leader Peter Golds had also heard these suggestions because he submitted an official member’s enquiry about them. The response to his questions was written by Takki Sulaiman, the not-so-value-for-money £100,000 a year “head of communications” hired by moonlighting Lutfur Ali in March this year. This was his answer:
That phrase “formal role” is interesting. I really doubt that an officer would wish to mislead a member. However, Peter has just submitted some follow-up questions, including a demand to know how his member’s enquiry was leaked to Media Link. See here:

May I know how many existing contracts the council has with Media Link?

May I know how long these contacts have been in place? What they are for and what is the fee? Have any Executive council members, either currently  in office or previously been involved in the appointment of Media Link and if so what declarations have been made?

In addition I am mystified as to the response to Media Link’s involvement with the last council meeting.  I was informed that they were involved. Interestingly, having tabled my question the MD of Media Link contacted me four times on my private mobile number and sought a meeting to discuss “questions I may have”.

I am in intrigued as to how Media Link would have any knowledge of my tabling questions on their council related activities?

I’ve tried calling Media Link, but the number listed on its website (020 7422 0002) is unobtainable, which isn’t really very good for a bespoke communications consultancy. I would also like to ask its bosses under what name(s) they file their accounts at Companies House…because the only two I have so far found listed at their registered address in Myrdle Street, Whitechapel, are Media Link World Ltd and Media Link Training Ltd, both of which have fewer financial assets than I do – and that’s saying something.
UPDATE, Dec 7, 6.30pm
Mujib Islam, who owns, Media Link, tells me he did not help with any publicity for Lutfur’s mayor-making ceremony in October. He also tells me that he found it difficult to secure an invite for himself and that it was only when Cllr Oli Rahman stepped in that he gained access. He says he feels distressed at being dragged into the politics of Tower Hamlets and that he is merely a businessman looking to develop a business that has taken 10 years to build. He says that he has not thought about bidding for any contract for East End Life, both because none is currently available, but also because he does not have that sort of capacity at the moment. He says that he had not met Lutfur until about eight or nine months ago when Shiraj Haque persuaded him to do some work on the Yes for Mayor referendum in May.
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