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Archive for January, 2014

Mayor speaking

President Lutfur Rahman, the Boy from Bow, the community organiser who inspires the streets of Spitalfields, gave his State of the Union address at Canary Wharf earlier this month. It was so good, the whooping crowd immediately reached for their pockets and gave him £56,000.

Who says beggars can’t be choosers!

Here’s what His Martyrship had to say:

Good evening everyone. I am honoured to be here tonight to report back to you on my three years as Mayor of Tower Hamlets.

Before I do, I want to thank everyone who has been part of that journey – my councillors and colleagues; my friends and supporters from across the spectrum in Tower Hamlets; the community groups and faith organisations that are the backbone of our public life; everyone on my team who has worked so hard to deliver the change that the people of Tower Hamlets voted for and that the people of Tower Hamlets deserve.

I do not wish to talk much about what we’ve done; Instead I want to focus on what we’re going to do. But before I do there is one question I’d like to answer that I’ve been asked again and again:

How has this administration has delivered so much when everyone else is cutting services, and where do we find the money when we’ve seen £130m in cuts in just three years?

I’ll tell you:

While others have simply been slashing services, we’ve been transforming the Council from the ground up; challenging old and inefficient ways of doing things; shifting our resources to better serve our residents; working tirelessly to find out what our community truly needs; pushing the Council to respond and effectively wherever those needs are not met; either by improving existing services; or by introducing radical new policies that nobody else in the UK has the courage or the imagination to implement.

But all our achievements take place against a backdrop of massive government cuts; of welfare reforms that are throwing up huge social challenges; of a stagnant economy and a growing gap between rich and poor.

There is also the sad fact that some in the main political parties locally have refused to accept reality; by hook or by crook they seem determined to stop us from delivering; determined to take the path of opposition for its own sake; and determined to use the most divisive and destructive tactics to bring this community to a grinding halt.

But you rejected them in 2010 and they will not succeed in 2014 because they belong to the old world of factional and divisive
politics. They have nothing positive to offer the people of Tower Hamlets.

So this is the challenge:

Delivering lasting change in a time of austerity; protecting some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in Britain; yet also unleashing the talent and aspirations of local people so that they can be active participants in the improvement of Tower Hamlets, not just onlookers.

It is a big task; but I have three core principles that have guided me throughout my time in politics:

First and foremost I believe in the talent and the ambition of our community. Our people, especially our young people, are our greatest asset.

Secondly, I believe in the unique spirit of tolerance and togetherness that characterises the East End; where hundreds of years
of immigration and the historic pressures of deprivation have forged a strong local identity.

You just need to look at the list of tonight’s speakers to see how people of every different background can be brought together by shared values and a shared love of the place we call home.

Finally, I believe that our location gives us the leverage to negotiate hard on behalf of local people. Negotiate with the developers who want to build on our land and the multi-national corporations that bring so much wealth into Canary Wharf.

With these three assets, I know that real and lasting change can be delivered; we can harness the talent in our midst; we can embrace all the creativity that diversity brings and we can make sure that big businesses and developers are delivering for the whole community.

Let them make their profit – I have no problem with that – but only if the community profits as well!

In four months you will have a clear choice:

On the one hand there are those that want to take Tower Hamlets back to the 1980s: unequal, unfair and economically stagnant; divided along lines of class and race.

On the other there is an administration with a proven track record of implementing radical policies; of coming up with solutions to emerging
problems like the welfare reforms and of successfully planning and delivering the big projects that will change the face of the borough forever.

But the mayoral model is as much about personal accountability as it is about the big vision. So I want to tell you why I went into politics and why I’ve fought so hard- and yes! I have had to fight hard.

My path in politics has not been a conventional one.

But ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades; I’m glad that I am an unconventional politician; I’m glad I’m not a careerist, an apparatchik or a party man because there are plenty of conventional politicians up for election in Tower Hamlets;

There are plenty of very ordinary candidates with very ordinary ideas; but Tower Hamlets is an extraordinary place. Over the years, the East End has produced some political giants; independent thinkers and social reformers.

These are the unconventional politicians from whom I draw my inspiration and whose example has given me the strength to fight on
for the all the people of this borough.

Why?

Quite simply, because Tower Hamlets is my home; this community is my community, it is in my blood; it is in my veins.

I’ve come to know every street and corner, every nook and cranny from Banglatown to Bow to the Island.

And everywhere, white, black or brown, I see the same huge potential and the same crushing need.

My heart bleeds when I see families living five-to-a room; when I see young people led astray by drugs and crime or our elderly people
robbed of their dignity and independence.

In the shadow of the glittering towers and untold billions of Canary Wharf, such suffering is absurd, and I’m sure it doesn’t take much to imagine a Tower Hamlets where a generation of children grow up in housing that is fit for their needs; where they attend the best schools in the world and go on to jobs that allow them to fulfil their potential; where they bring up their families in the safest, cleanest borough; and where they are not just residents, but neighbours; connected to each other by bonds of care and trust that ensure everyone’s needs are met and nobody is left behind.

That is my vision.

It has sustained me through the difficult points in my “unconventional” career because each day I know that we are working hard towards that future for our children and mine.

I have done my best over the last three years as Mayor, and before that for two years as leader, to deliver that vision. While the foundations are laid, the true transformation of Tower Hamlets needs to be driven home.

That’s why I’m running again, because the job is only half done.

I know that all of you here share the vision for a better Tower Hamlets and in a few months’ time, I hope to stand in front of you and say that we have four more years to deliver it.

Until then, lets work hard, and lets show the people of this borough that we’re on their side; and that my team and I have the passion and
dedication to keep putting Tower Hamlets First.

 

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Lutfur Rahman’s army of media advisers normally send me their press releases but I seem to have been left off the distribution list for this one that went out on Saturday:

Mayor to scrap council car

Transparency a top priority during election period

Mayor Lutfur Rahman has announced that he will be giving up the official car in the lead up to the 2014 local elections.

Mayor Rahman said: “Although I will continue to work hard and deliver for the people of Tower Hamlets up to 22nd May and beyond, I will naturally be attending more political meetings in the next few months.

“In order to ensure that the highest standards of probity and transparency are maintained, I will no longer be making use of the official car and I hope that the Labour Speaker of the Council will follow my example.”

Ends

Notes to editors:

Mayor Rahman is setting a precedent. Other local authorities provide transportation for Council Leaders and Mayors including:

· Lewisham, where the Mayor has a chauffeur driven car.
· Newham, where Robin Wales has use of a pool car.
· Kensington and Chelsea which maintains a £125,000 Bentley Continental.
· Redbridge which maintains £123,000 two stretch Jaguars.
· The car is leased and will be returned to the leasing company and the driver redeployed within the Council.

So the Mayor who has failed to answer a single question from councillors or residents in the council chamber during his entire time in office is now a great believer in “probity and transparency”.

The council stated here that the cost of the Mercedes it was forced to lease to meet Lutfur’s ego has been £42,300 a year. That’s £161 for every working day. During the three years he’s had it, the total bill to the taxpayer (during a time of heavy cuts from Whitehall remember) has been more than £120,000.

This £120,000 has come at the expense of frontline budgets. He’s made great play of proclaiming his Mayor’s Education Award, which allows a limited number of hard up students to apply for £400 cash bursaries. If he’d done what John Biggs said he’d do as Mayor and use public transport (or his own), Lutfur would have been able to give an extra 300 of those precious awards.

And look how Lutfur signs off with such grace:

I hope that the Labour Speaker of the Council will follow my example

The current Speaker is Cllr Lesley Pavitt, who is retired.

lesley pavitt

By pretty much universal opinion, she’s been the best chair of the council in many years, respected on all sides for the neutral way she’s tried to stamp out the immature behaviour of councillors from all parties.

I don’t know how she travels to ceremonial events at the moment, but I don’t think anyone (apart from the Thomas Cromwell convert Lutfur) would begrudge her anything less than a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder, don’t you think?

In fact, here’s one that costs £120,000…

Labour have been good on this issue and were quick today with their response, which is below:

Lutfur Rahman bows to pressure and suspends use of tax payer funded Mercedes

– Last June John Biggs pledged to scrap car immediately if elected

– Rahman will only suspend car during election period

After months of pressure from Labour councillors Lutfur Rahman, the controversial independent Mayor of Tower Hamlets, has announced he would suspend his use of his £42,000 a year tax payer funded Mercedes until after the election.

Rahman’s u-turn comes after a damning report into the car from the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee and a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary which found the Mayor using the chauffeur driven car to collect dry-cleaning and travel distances as short as 0.2 miles.

Despite widespread criticism Rahman only pledged his intention to drop his car “in the lead up to the 2014 local elections” prompting Labour councillors to label it a “disingenuous election stunt”.

Labour believe the Mayor should make use of the borough’s extensive public transport system instead of wasting tens of thousands of pounds on a luxury chauffeured car. Labour’s candidate for Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs pledged back in June that he would scrap the car if elected later this year.

Responding to Rahman’s call to scrap the Speaker of the Council’s car Labour highlighted that the Speaker is politically impartial and is not standing for re-election. They also pointed out that the Speaker is required to use a car in order to protect the Council’s ceremonial chains of office which are worth thousands of pounds.

Responding to Rahman’s u-turn Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Sirajul Islam, said: “This is nothing more than a disingenuous election stunt from Lutfur Rahman. If he had any integrity he’d permanently scrap his taxpayer funded chauffeured Mercedes and admit it is a total waste of money.

“It’s totally wrong that Lutfur Rahman thinks a taxpayer funded life of luxury is acceptable, especially in one of the country’s most deprived boroughs.”

Labour candidate for Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, said: “Three years and over 100,000 taxpayer pounds later, Lutfur Rahman has decided to temporarily stop being chauffer driven around because his lawyers have told him he cannot stretch his misuse of public funds into the election period.”

“The best way to end this kind of abuse for good is to vote for me on 22nd May.”

 

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I’v now heard of several cases of when Lutfurite canvassers (it’s alleged they’re being paid to knock on doors) have introduced themselves at people’s homes without clearly stating who they are. One contact said they were paid a visit by Cllr Alibor Choudhury recently and claimed even he failed to clarify his status; instead he apparently said “Hello, we’re from Tower Hamlets council and we believe in bringing the council to you” before asking whether there were any problems he could solve.

Mark Baynes, who runs the LoveWapping blog has detailed at some length the problems he’s witnessed, eg here, here and here. Channel 4 have also been examining the issue.

Peter Golds raised it at full council last week. I asked him to write a piece for this blog.

By Cllr Peter Golds

Three weeks ago a Labour candidate in Cubitt Town was calling on voters in Galbraith Street. How do I know? Easy, because a voter told me the next day.

The voter knew this was a Labour candidate because she had material identifying her party and herself as a candidate and indeed said so.  A week later I was with a team canvassing in Stewart Street and I have no doubt that the Labour party heard about this.

Why? Because we also identified ourselves and had leaflets and stickers indicating exactly who we were.

Once the local elections get fully under way candidates and helpers will be easily identified as they will be wearing coloured rosettes when calling on voters.

The stories circulating regarding canvassers supporting Lutfur Rahman and his team of candidates–and they are canvassers–are increasingly disturbing.

These people are not identifying themselves either as canvassers or immediately as supporters of the Rahman administration. In one case a resident on Manchester Road, questioned the two young men who called on him asking what it was about. He was told that this was their job. In which case who is paying?

Here is the text of an email sent this week to the police and the Returning Officer from a block on a Cubitt Town estate:

 I am receiving complaints from neighbours that two young men are knocking on doors with official papers in their hand and leaflets from the Mayor, when challenged concerning official ID they have fled saying contact the Mayor’s Office.

I am concerned at anyone going round knocking on doors without any kind of ID saying who they are and particularly where vulnerable people are concerned.

They have just knocked on my door and I can confirm they do not display any form of ID.

Perhaps you could kindly look into this and ask the Mayor to arrange for anyone canvassing for him to display appropriate and suitable Identity.

Note that once again when challenged they referred to the Mayor’s office.

There is also concern as to the huge numbers of letters, sent out at taxpayer’s expense by the council, supposedly as a response to enquiries.

A worried voter met me to say that she had received one of these visits from two young men (they always appear to work in pairs); again they were evasive as to who they represented, mentioning “the council”. 

A little later she received a letter from a councillor from another ward, whom she had never met, and would not in any case have contacted. This claimed to be a response from an “enquiry” that the resident had raised. As the lady said to me, she knows her local councillors by name. Why, so soon after the visit of the two young men had she received this letter when she was adamant that she not raised an enquiry.

 

Worryingly, these unsolicited letters are now logged on the council’s computer system. There is evidence that the number is very high. Will these people receive another unsolicited letter at the start of the election campaign?    

What data protection is there about his? The council is a public body, often holding sensitive information about residents, what is or could be fed into these letters and indeed visits?

Political parties contact voters, and we often contact them by leaflet or letter. However, we use our own resources and voters are made aware of our affiliation. We are also subject to strict rules on data collection.

This below the radar campaigning is part of the problem of the Rahman administration. They themselves are all but personally invisible to the electorate at large. Yes, the Mayor enjoys going to organisations who are the beneficiaries of his grants programme, and who naturally are delighted to have him unveil a plaque thanking him for his generosity.

This is not to use a campaign term, “pumping the flesh”. Nobody sees him on an actual doorstep or handing out leaflets on a street corner.

As for his candidates, there was a classic example this week.

The Mayor attended the new site of the traffic light tree sculpture close to Billingsgate Market. Naturally, he arrived in the taxpayer funded car, which promptly parked in the McDonald’s customer car park, using up a customer parking space.

From where Lutfur Rahman posed for a photograph, in front of Billingsgate Market, the town hall can easily be seen. It is a walk of three four minutes at the most. Had he walked it, he would have passed actual voters.

With him, in the car, was his media guru Mohammed Jubair and former councillor, Mohammed Shahid Ali, who was deselected by the Labour Party in 2010 and is apparently the Mayor’s chosen candidate for Mile End, some way from his home on the Isle of Dogs.

Perhaps Mohammed Shahid Ali needs a ride at taxpayers expense to find the ward he has been allocated? Certainly, whilst a councillor his main claim to fame was to fall asleep during a planning meeting and then vote on the matter in hand, which somewhat annoyed residents.

In conclusion, there are serious questions to be answered about these canvassers and council resources. Bluster, abuse and threats from the so called cabinet is not the way forward on this matter. It is time for others to look into the situation.

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A parking warden claimed Councillor Anwar Khan threatened to fetch a machete and kill him during a row over a double yellow line infringement.

On the other hand, Anwar says he was the one fearing for his life after the warden had threatened him with that old East End promise of “I know where you live”.

Anwar says the warden is lying. I tend to believe him; he says he doesn’t even own a machete. After all, he’s an accountant, not a butcher.

But although this is all just normal knockabout stuff for Tower Hamlets politics, this incident in Spitalfields last June has a bit more significance to it.

This was the row that played a large part in the de-selection of Bow West councillor Anwar Khan from the Labour slate for May’s elections. It became the subject of a council investigation (as yet unresolved, as far as I understand) which was brought to the attention of Labour’s interviewing panel via Cllr Carlo Gibbs, the Tower Hamlets chief whip and now Anwar’s chief enemy.

The dispute was used a further evidence that Anwar–who, as the group’s previous chief whip, last year dragged Abdal Ullah back into the council chamber during a crucial budget vote–had an attitude problem.

After a series of interviews he was deselected in favour of his sister-in-law Asma Begum, a decision he didn’t really like.

He decided to take revenge clear his name and has set about accusing the Tower Hamlets Labour party of a form of institutional racism. I reported here that he thinks John Biggs is a control freak who doesn’t like clever and outspoken Bengalis like him, that old John Biggs likes his Bengalis Uncle Tom style–yes sir, no sir, three bags full stir.

Which I think is a bit bollocks really, but that strain of thought is genuinely out there.

Whatever the truth, Anwar is currently a Very Angry Man. And after he was sacked from Labour’s front bench, he issued this press statement last week:

Cllr Khan responded to Labour Leaders claims that the allegations of a stitch up was baseless, Khan said: “What more proof do you need the emails were black and white? I spoke out and was sacked and silenced. John Biggs rules the Labour councillors with an iron fist and the Group leader Sirajul Islam is just a puppet who’s there for the diversity shot.”

Khan has served as councillor for Bow West ward, alongside Joshua Peck and Ann Jackson, since 2010, and spent three years as the party’s Chief Whip as well as 3 years as Shadow Employment Spokesman. His deselection and demotion appear to stem from a bitter feud with Carlo Gibbs, councilor for St Peters and protégé of Labour Mayoral candidate John Biggs.

Gibbs succeeded Khan as Chief Whip and was responsible for preparing reports on each prospective candidate. It is understood that Mr Gibbs is now under official investigation himself after allegations of dishonesty.

Cllr Khan said: “I’m a proud member of the Labour party but in Tower Hamlets the culture of dodgy dossiers and secret trials is destroying the party – not just in Tower Hamlets, but in Harrow, Hackney and anywhere there’s a large ethnic minority population. Just a few weeks ago, Biggs wrote to me to say I was one of the ‘sharpest’
minds in Labour Group. Now I’ve been deselected and demoted for speaking out.” This is hypocrisy.

Cllr Khan also revealed the extent of divisions in the Labour Group: “Biggs has surrounded himself with bullies and double-dealers and sitting councillors are increasingly worried about their seats.”

Cllr Khan also confirmed that John Biggs had taken image and presentation advice from him on a number of occasions after concerns were raised about the Mayoral candidate’s personal manner: “John has some interpersonal and presentational issues and I’ve advised him in the past on how to talk to people from diverse communities without alienating them. Clearly some of those lessons haven’t sunk in.”

I love the bit about John seeking “presentational advice”. From Anwar.

Which brings us back to High Noon in Spitalfields.

What follows is a lengthy transcript of Anwar’s interview with the council’s “independent” investigator, known here as MD. He’s a council officer.

You’ll see from the account that Anwar had partially parked on a double yellow as he dropped off his family in Spitafileds. He had left the engine running and says he had asked the warden for a few seconds while he tended to his child.

The warden apparently said ‘Computer says No’, Anwar said ‘Don’t you know I’m a councillor’, the warden said ‘I don’t care if you’re the Prime Minister’, Anwar said ‘I’m going to call Head of Paid Service Steve Halsey to tell him you need some customer service training and you might lose your job,’ and the warden then got a bit angry, allegedly.

I don’t have the warden’s version, but if Anwar’s is a fair account of what happened, then, although he might have been a bit high handed with his ‘I’m a councillor’ retort, I reckon sympathies might well lie with him.

All this is playing into Lutfur’s hands of course. He thinks he was the victim of a similar injustice by the Labour party. And that he never did anything wrong…

But for the avoidance of doubt, Anwar says there is no way he will defect or help Lutfur. Although he doesn’t deny Lutfur’s people are helping him drive a machete into Labour’s heart right now.

Here’s the transcript for your amusement.

Date 16/07/13
Time: 19:12-20:15

Investigation into a complaint made against Civil Enforcement Officer THxxx by Cllr Anwar Khan.

Process: MD explained that he was appointed by Mirsad Balokavic Head of Parking Services to carry out an investigation in to an alleged incident 20th June 2013. AK questioned whether MD believed that he was under pressure from his Service Head, Mr Jamie Blake. MD claimed this was not the case. AK reassured MD that he has taken steps to ensure the allegations made by Mr. Blake have been actioned and prior to the meeting, the Head of Paid Service confirmed that Mr. Blake will no longer play any part in this investigation due to the perceived interest he has. AK advised MD of the steps he should take if he feels threatened by Mr.Blake and should disregard his email not to seek any further information from AK.

Background: MD explained the context of his role as an independent investigator and gave Cllr Anwar Khan a brief on a number of investigations carried out in the past. AK reassured MD that he should not feel pressurised by the unorthodox intervention by his Service Head and that matter has been dealt with and the person removed. The reason for removal AK explained was due to breach of constitution by the officer.

MD:​ When you arrived into Casson Streetwas the CEO already there?

AK​: I parked up in front of my house I could see CEO through my windscreen. In the meantime, I unbuckled my son and held him in arms, I waited for CEO to approach, when CEO approached I asked him for some time (30sec) to drop son in to house which was approx less the 2 meters from the car. I asked him very politely and believed it was acceptable for such interaction with officers. the CEO’s tone was angry, he seemed annoyed at being asked a question. The CEO said “no you have no time and will have to move immediately or get a ticket”.

AK and his family were petrified at the response, AK states that he was confused that the officer was not following policy, as he states that there is allowance of 5 minute observation time. AK could not understand why the CEO was so angry. AK states had the CEO been honest and forthcoming providing accurate advise the altercation would not have arose. AK states that he believes that is the root cause of the matter, had the CEO followed the training he received training on customer services, then this situation would have been avoided. He questioned the officers ability to communicate clearly and felt that the officer should not performing a front line role if he cannot communicate. AK also commented that the officer presented an immediate risk to health and safety to the public and should be removed from duty. AK continues to worry about his safety, and states that he has not received the risk assessment Taft has been done and any written confirmation of what has been done to ensure his safety.

MD: ​You state that you were in the process of helping your family out of the Vehicle was the car was empty at the time the CEO arrived?

AK: ​My son was in the car seat, he was asleep, I was in the process of getting my son out of the car seat, the engine was still running, I requested for 30 seconds to drop son off. The CEO said no you must move your car now. AK asked politely and was shocked at the response. He was mortified that an officer could be so rude. The CEO’s response was “I will do what my job says, I don’t care if you are the Prime Minister, I will still put a ticket now unless you move it”.

AK said that he worked for the council and understood the councils observation policy and said that he will raise the matter with the Head of Paid Service that the CEO was not complying with policy. AK was very disappointed with the service that tax payers were receiving.

MD:​ Where were you when you first noticed the CEO?

AK: ​I was on site by my car waiting for CEO to arrive so I could speak to him. I asked the CEO politely if he could allow 30 seconds. The CEO asked me to move or I will get a ticket and started to make notes in his Pocket Book, I told him I need to take my son in to house, I left my son with family members at the door step and came back to move my car and park correctly.

MD: ​You state that your vehicle was half in the bay with the rear wheels on the double yellow line. Could you perhaps be mistaken of the position of your car?

AK: ​My car was half in bay and half on DYL, I made a genuine attempt to park correctlyin bay and managed to get 75% of the carin the bay. AK states that it was genuine attempt to park the car, as a responsible driver he assessed the corner and believed it was adequate for emergency vehicles to pass through.

MD: ​Why was your engine still running if you could get no further into the bay?

AK: ​Because I was planning to move into another bay after dropping family members off. It was going to be a 30 second process – to literally walk 5 meters to put my son to bed and return to park try car.

AK added when during peak times, there is a shortage of parking, he has an arrangement with a friend who has a driveway off Buxton Street. There was no intention for his car to be left there for longer than 30 seconds, probably less. AK added, in his 12 year driving career he has only had received 2 tickets.

MD: ​Once you had dropped your son off inside the house and returned to your car did you say anything to the CEO?

AK: ​Yes I said I will call the council to speak Steve Halsey to clarify the policy. I asked the CEO for his name and Number herefused. I had to catch sight of his number as he was walking away towards Chicksand street.

MD: ​Did you say “you can’t issue me with a ticket? If you try it I will show you. You don’t know who I am I will make sure you lose your job”.

AK​: No, I said I know council very well andas a Labour Cllr I will never say something like that. I know very well the council policy is 5 minutes Observation time. There were no red line or kerb marks which I know is a different policy.

AK added that the CEO made comments, “I don’t care who you are, even if you are prime minister you will get a ticket”, AK was in the process of making a all to Mr. Halsey and at no point made those comments.

MD: ​What did you say to the CEO when he slammed the door against you? What was your reaction?

AK​: I was shocked and astonished; therewere scaffolding on street between him and my car. I did not think CEO will conduct himself so badly. He challenged me to put a report in to the council and that he will fight it all the way. He said he has been doing the job for 20 years andnobody has ever reported him for this kind of stuff.

MD:​ Was there any injuries sustained and if so did you seek medical attention?

AK had to rest for several days. He did not require to take time off work as he was on annual leave.

MD: ​At the time that the officer slammed the door against your arm and shoulder, you state that the car directly in front of you moved away. Did the driver of the car in front witness any of this incident?

AK:​ He must have as he was walking to thecar; there were two members of public

MD​: Why did he not assist you?

AK: ​I did not know the driver of car. There was nothing to assist even though the officer was violent and threatening – however people expect such violence from CEO’s.

MD: ​When the officer said to you “Come here tomorrow, I will kill you” were there any witnesses to this?

AK: ​CEO was on opposite side of the street my wife and mum were witness. Somalian woman who I saw next day said that she heard a parking attendant shouting although she could not hear what was said.

AK states that his wife and mother witnessed this. They were all frightened and required additional security measures applied to the property to ensure the officer cannot return.

MD: ​Did the police take statements from these witnesses?

AK​: There was no witness at the time I saw a Somalian lady the next day.

MD:​ Did the police take a statement from your wife?

AK: ​No she had gone out. They also did not ask, otherwise she would have been happy to do so.

MD:​ The officer states that you got into your car and moved it back approximately 12 inches and said “See I told you, you can’t do me”

AK:​ No, because he could have still given me a ticket if he wanted. I didn’t say anything like that. I had to move my vehicle to let other car out. The officer is desperate to make anything seem like a material point, there is nothing contradictory to the Highway Code for reversing to allow another vehicle pass. This is a nonsense point.

MD:​ Where were you when the police turned up?

AK: ​I was across the road trying to get CEO Name & Number while I was waiting for police.

MD:​ The police told you the Civil Enforcement Officer had made a counter allegation. Do you know what that was?

AK: ​Something like I was going to get a machete to kill him, this allegation was made after police informed him I made an allegation.

MD: ​Do you have a CAD or incident number from the police?

AK: ​Yes in I have it in the Car. Can you tell me what the number is? I no longer have this. Anyway this is not a matter for public perusal.

MD: ​Have you contacted the police regarding their investigation?

AK: ​No they sent email to stating not enough evidence to pursue the case. Could I possibly have a copy of the email?

M:D ​There was no mention of any witnesses in the statement made on the day to THEO THxxx

AK: ​Other than family

MD:​ You supplied the names of some witnesses and you mentioned that there was a plain cloths police officer attending to a domestic. Do you know why this officer did not intervene at the time this incident took place?

AK: ​He did not see the incident he only saw tail end of me requesting name & Number from the CEO. He didn’t give name or number so I followed him to Chicksand Street.

MD: ​Did you have conversation with Member of Public who had just received a ticket from this officer.

AK: ​No

MD: ​How did you know he was a plain cloths police officer and did you manage to get his name?

AK: he showed his card to the officers who came to restrain the violent officer. Note that the officer was running away from the incident when they arrived, police had to shout after him and run after him.

The above statement is true and made to the best of my knowledge and belief.

Signed ………………………………..Date…………………..


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Further to my post here about Anwar Khan’s criticism of his fellow Labour colleagues, I’m told he’s now been sacked from the group’s shadow cabinet.

Tower Hamlets Labour has issued this statement:

“Following his press statement in December Cllr Khan was relieved from his Shadow Cabinet post as we felt that his actions were not compatible with remaining a Labour spokesperson. His comments were disappointing, but there is no conspiracy to try remove him from Labour group. We have reminded Cllr Khan of the need to meet the high standards set out in the Labour Party rules and will take appropriate action should he further break the rules he signed up to when he became a Labour councillor.”

And they have also sent these quotes to me:

A London Regional Labour Party Spokesperson said:

“The Labour Party has raised the bar and is determined to put the best possible team of candidates before the people of Tower Hamlets in next May’s Borough Council elections.

“As with selections in all London boroughs, council candidate hopefuls in Tower Hamlets went through the most rigorous selection process which was overseen by London Regional Labour Party.

“Those who fail to meet the higher standards required to stand as Labour Party candidates will be understandably disappointed. However, we believe it is unacceptable that Anwar Khan appears to be using legitimate concerns raised publicly about his own behaviour in an attempt to blame others for his deselection.”

Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Sirajul Islam, said:

“Whilst the selection for council candidates is an issue for the London Labour Party I am proud to be part of a talented and united party which has selected candidates from all backgrounds and walks of life.

“I am sure that Cllr Khan’s claims are entirely baseless and are clearly motivated by personal frustration at his legitimate deselection. Whilst it’s sad that he chose to make these unfounded accusations, I and my colleagues remain focused on winning back the Town Hall to help build a better future for Tower Hamlets. ”

I’ve also now obtained Anwar’s witness statement to the council’s “independent investigation” into his dispute with a parking warden. Once I’ve checked a couple of points, I’ll publish it. It makes for fascinating reading.

One point to note here though: Lutfur’s group is very keen to use this fallout to portray Anwar as another victim of another Labour injustice. There has been contact between the Lutfurites and Anwar over all this.

It’s the budget setting meeting of the full council next month and Anwar’s vote could be crucial to Labour getting it’s majority. If he’s intent on inflicting maximum damage, he could easily cross the floor. He could also abstain.

I have to say, it’s interesting that the other councillor to have been deselected, Mizan Chaudhary, has so far remained silent. Quite a contrast.

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The camera never lies, does it?

President Lutfur Rahman held a very Presidential fundraising rally on Tuesday night. I wasn’t invited, alas, but I suspect it was cheaper than the £100-a-head affair hosted in honour of John Biggs last November at the same venue, the East Wintergarden in Canary Wharf.

Apparently, it was a good and impressive do. I’m not sure who paid for it, but in a press release issued today, Lutfur’s new party, Tower Hamlets First, said they’d raised £56,000 AFTER the event. Wow! There’s no such thing as a free dinner, is there? Except in Tower Hamlets, where there are plenty of free lunch clubs…

Well, since Lutfur has always been a transparent sort of guy, we can all look forward to the break down of that £56k when he declares it in the most minute detail to the Electoral Commission.

Now, one of the accusations frequently levelled at President Rahman is he’s almost exclusively interested in the Bengali vote. But that’s not true. Because his press release included a main photo to prove his broad appeal.

mayor with supporters

 

Helpfully, though, he also sent us a wider shot.

Event photo

Which appears to match the description given by someone who attended: very Bengali and very male.

Here’s the text of his press release (I’m just pasting these without correcting mistakes):

Press Release

For immediate release – 16 January 2014

Mayor reports back to the community on three years in office

‘Transforming Tower Hamlets’ event sets vision for the future

Mayor Lutfur Rahman was joined on Tuesday night (14 January) by over 500 representatives of local organisations, community activists and supporters at the East Wintergarden in Canary Wharf to mark his administration’s delivery after three years in office.

The event was chaired by broadcaster Rizwan Hussain and Nana Asante, the Mayor of Harrow. Guests were treated to two films detailing Lutfur Rahman’s political journey and the administration’s string of nationally recognised achievements in housing, education and investments in fighting crime, as well as speakers including:

Ohid Ahmed, Deputy Mayor of Tower Hamlets; Simon Woolley, Founder and Director of Operation Black Vote;

Lillian Collins, Chair of the Poplar Baths Steering Group and former Chair of Poplar and Canning Town Labour Party;

Shiraj Haque, Chair of the 2010 Yes for Mayor Campaign;

Father Michael Dunne; Head of the Catholic Deanery, Tower Hamlets;

Captain Nick Coke of the Salvation Army and TELCO/CITIZENS UK;

Muquim Ahmed, Chair of the British Bangladeshi Chamber of Commerce;

Mawlana Shamsul Haque, Chair of Council of Mosques, Tower Hamlets and

Nazia Ahad, teacher and local resident.

In his speech, Mayor Rahman thanked the residents of the borough, community activists, supporters and the business community and embraced his unusual political journey saying:

“There are plenty of conventional politicians up for election in Tower Hamlets; plenty of very ordinary candidates with very ordinary ideas… I’m glad that I am an unconventional politician; I’m glad I’m not a careerist or a party man, because Tower Hamlets is an extraordinary place.”

Mayor Rahman also set out his vision for the future of the borough; centred on the £100m Whitechapel Vision redevelopment project which will bring 5,000 new jobs, 3,500 new homes, space for retail businesses and a publicly-owned town hall in the historic former Royal London Hospital building, saving residents millions each year in rent and service charges on the current town hall.

After a successful event, local business people and supporters pledged a total of £56,500 towards Tower Hamlets First and the re-election of Mayor Rahman.

Mayor Rahman said: “Our administration as a proven track record of implementing progressive policies to deal with emerging issues such as the government’s cuts to welfare, but we’ve also shown we can successfully plan and deliver the big projects that will change the face of Tower Hamlets forever.”

Operation Black Vote Chief Simon Wolley told the gathering: “Lutfur has made history as Europe’s first directly elected black mayor. He’s a role model to black communities across Britain

Speaking after the event, Deputy Mayor Ohid Ahmed said: “Lutfur Rahman stands head and shoulders above the other candidates. He has the vision and determination to transform this borough and I’m proud to fight alongside him for the ordinary people of Tower Hamlets.”

Lillian Collins, Chair of the Poplar Baths Steering Group said: “Lutfur is committed to ordinary working people in Tower Hamlets; he delivers on his promises and cares as much about our heritage as our future. Four years ago, the reopening of Poplar Baths was a mere dream. Now it is fast becoming a reality.”

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A bit of fun…I’ve just written this for the Express website. A cheery take on a very earnest proposal by Lutfurite councillors Rabina Khan and Rania Khan for a very worthy tribute to Nelson Mandela in Tower Hamlets.

nelson mandela tower hamlets

LEFTIE council bosses in London want to build a Nelson Mandela House–not in the Only Fools and Horses area of Peckham but a few miles away in Tower Hamlets.

Ruling councillors at the controversial east London authority want to name a new building after the late South African president “to ensure his legacy will always be upheld” in the area.

Councillors Rabina Khan and Rania Khan, a former member of the Socialist Workers’ Party, have proposed a motion on the idea for debate at next week’s full town hall meeting.

It is not known whether they are fans of the famous BBC sitcom, but when asked last night where Del and Rodney Trotter used to live, Cllr Rania Khan said she had no idea it was in Nelson Mandela House.

The fictional council tower block in Peckham was named by show creator John Sullivan as a mocking take on the socialist inner-city councils of the Eighties when Mandela was still in a Robben Island jail.

The motion by the two Tower Hamlets councillors makes no reference to Only Fools and Horses and is entirely serious and worthy.

They say their borough, which is frequently dogged by accusations of racism between Bengalis and whites, should learn from Mr Mandela who died last month.

They are demanding their council colleagues “name a building on the Blackwall [housing] development after Mandela”.

They urge the council “to use every relevant occasion to remind the young of the borough of the importance of both fighting for their beliefs and reconciliation”.

But in their preamble to the motion, the two councillors also try score political points by referring to the politics of the Eighties.

They write: “Despite Margaret Thatcher describing Nelson Mandela as a ‘terrorist’, and the refusal of the Tory government at the time to unite with the rest of Europe in imposing sanctions on South Africa, Nelson Mandela died perceived universally as a courage and principled politician whose example in resisting oppression and inequality inspires all those struggling for racial equality and social justice.

“In a borough where so many different races live side by side, Mandela’s determination to create racial equality and unite the black and white people of South Africa holds a particular importance.”

The two ex-Labour councillors are independent members and allied to the council’s directly elected mayor, Lutfur Rahman.

The site for the new building would be on the Blackwall Reach development, which is currently under construction by the Blackwall Tunnel.

Councils are currently expecting a deluge of request for changes in street names and other monuments in honour of Mr Mandela, but Tower Hamlets is believed to be the first to want a building in his honour.

Cllr Peter Golds, who leads the Tory opposition on the council, said his colleagues’ move was foolhardy and “singularly inappropriate”.
“I thought we had progressed from the days of Only Fools and Horses,” he said. “A statue would be a much better idea.”

Two tower blocks were used to depict Nelson Mandela House in the sitcom.

The original was in South Acton, west London, while the later shows featured Whitemead House in Bristol.

Cast members of the show were in mourning today after the death of actor Roger Lloyd-Pack who played the often dopy character Trigger.

The motion is listed here on p107 of the agenda for Wednesday’s full council meeting: 

12.11 Motion on Nelson Mandela

Proposer: Councillor Rabina Khan Seconder: Councillor Rania Khan

The Council notes:

• On the 5th December 2013, South African anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela passed away.

• Mandela served 27 years in prison after being convicted of attempting to overthrow the state while an international campaign lobbied for his release.

• After his release, Mandela joined negotiations with President FW de Klerk to abolish apartheid and establish multiracial elections, lead the ANC into victory where he became South Africa’s first black president and won the Nobel Prize for Peace.

The Council believes:

• Despite Margaret Thatcher describing Nelson Mandela as a ‘terrorist’, and the refusal of the Tory government at the time to unite with the rest of Europe in imposing sanctions on South Africa, Nelson Mandela died perceived universally as a courage and principled politician whose example in resisting oppression and inequality inspires all those struggling for racial equality and social justice.

• In a borough where so many different races live side by side, Mandela’s determination to create racial equality and unite the black and white people of South Africa holds a particular importance.

The Council resolves:

• To remember Nelson Mandela, in particular, to use every relevant occasion to remind the young of the borough of the importance of both fighting for their beliefs and reconciliation.

• To name a building on the Blackwall redevelopment after Mandela to ensure that his legacy will always be upheld and achievements be acknowledged in Tower Hamlets.

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