Archive for May 16th, 2012

AND there was I thinking that Labour was trying to clean up its act in Tower Hamlets. Silly me.

Two articles have appeared on the East London Advertiser’s website on consecutive days this week that should really be in the “you couldn’t make it up” section.

On Monday we learnt this:

A Tower Hamlets councillor has apologised to residents after blocking them into their car park in Poplar for three hours on Saturday evening.

Residents at Birchfeld estate say about 20 people gathered in the car park on Pinefield Close after they were unable to get their cars out after Labour councillor Rajib Ahmed parked a mini cab in front of the gates to the parking enclosure.

They say the East India and Lansbury councillor, who is also a self employed cab driver, blocked their entrance from around 7pm to 22pm when the police attended.

It is understood a resident who needed to get to the hospital to see her sick mother ended up phoning the police.

Another resident, Maria Wall, said: “My sister was visiting from Essex and could not get home with her son who needed his medication for severe allergies.

“He (Ahmed) should know better as a driver and as a councillor who we have voted in.”

Councillor Ahmed this morning told the Advertiser: “I apologised to residents. It was a great mistake and I’m really ashamed. I was parked on a continuous yellow line and the gates were closed, and I didn’t realise it was the car park entrance.”

So, laziness and a couldn’t-care-less attitude to voters: the perfect CV for Labour. A day after his minicab arrogance, we learn this:

Labour has voted its candidate to take over as chairman and Speaker of Tower Hamlets council in London’s East End.

The majority Opposition Labour Group’s annual meeting last night (Mon) agreed to put up Cllr Rajib Ahmed.

Retired nurse Lesley Pavitt, a newcomer who was only elected a councillor in 2010, has been named candidate for Deputy Speaker who would, by tradition, be in line to take over the role of chair this time next year.

Cab driver Rajib held a celebration party at Brick Lane’s Preem restaurant, owned by former Respect chair Asmal Hussain, immediately after the Labour Group meeting at the Town Hall.

His selection and Cllr Pavitt’s selection as his deputy goes before tomorrow night’s full council meeting to be ratified—but with Labour holding a large majority on the authority, run by the independent administration of Mayor Lutfur Rahman, both are certain to be elected.

Cllr Ahmed takes over from Labour’s Mizanur Choudhury as council chairman and Tower Hamlets’ controversial First Citizen who clashed with Executive Mayor Rahman over his civic role and loss of his Town Hall office and official car during his term.

But Cllr Ahmed is not without his own controversy, having had to apologise for parking his minicab at the entrance to a car park on Poplar’s Birchfeld housing estate on Saturday evening—blocking 20 motorists for three hours who were unable to get out. The minicab had to be moved by police.

He really must be a magician, our Rajib, because this is the second time his laziness and arrogance have been rewarded by Labour.

In 2007, the then Lib Dem councillor (he had defected from Labour after being de-selected in 2002) was ticked off by the council’s toothless Standards Committee for failing to complete any timesheets for a year.

Here’s what I wrote in the Advertiser on May 22, 2008:

ONE of the East End’s most poorly performing councillors has been forced out of the Liberal Democrat party after “showing no interest in the people of Tower Hamlets”.

Rajib Ahmed, a councillor in the East India and Lansbury ward, left the Lib Dems at the weekend, just days before the party’s headquarters was due to expel him.

He has rejoined the Labour party, but senior figures within the ruling group on Tower Hamlets council are strongly opposed to the move.

Cllr Ahmed is a minicab company director and part-time magician who rarely attends Town Hall meetings, has not spoken at full council for more than two years and has not filed a timesheet for six months.

In a press release on Tuesday, the London regional Labour party said the “high profile” and “leading Lib Dem councillor” was “coming home” to Labour.

He was de-selected as Labour council- lor six years ago when he then defected to the Lib Dems. Since then, he has stood in council elections twice and defeated Labour both times.

Cllr Ahmed’s defection leaves the Lib Dem group, once the dominant force in Tower Hamlets politics, with just three councillors.

But party bosses were this week stating “good riddance” to Cllr Ahmed.

Apparently, he’s popular and good company in private but what sort of message does it send to voters when they consider his record adequate for such a prestigious position? I thought the grubby little deals of the Labour group were a thing of the past. Clearly not.

His new job will almost certainly be confirmed at full council tonight. It will be interesting to see what minicab company the then chooses to use…

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