Apologies for the lack of posts recently; I have a funny feeling I’ll be making up for it over the next few months.
Lutfur’s finance man Cllr Alibor Choudhury has always been a man to watch. He has a colourful past and in his younger, (even) more fiery days he had a battle or two with gangs on Stepney’s Ocean estate.
He then saw the light and channelled his considerable energies (and passion) into community politics and became a prominent figure with the Ocean New Deal Communities multimillion pound funding well.
All this brought him to the attention of Labour’s John Biggs, who took the little cherub under his wing and prepared him for councillor stardom. Everyone knew Alibor was John’s protege and during Labour’s selection contest for the parliamentary seat of Bethnal Green and Bow in 2007 (eventually won by Rushanara Ali), Alibor was John’s biggest cheerleader. (Well, that’s what he told me at least.)
How times have changed. At full council meetings now, Alibor positively hisses hatred towards his former mentor sitting in the public gallery.
Politics is such a nasty business and I’d have thought it wiser not to upset those who know where the bodies (and current skeletons) lie.
That said, I’ve always quite liked him and I wish him luck in his new quest: to get elected in the newly drawn ward of Stepney Green. He’s deserted his current patch in Shadwell to return to his homeland where he’ll be standing for Tower Hamlets First alongside Oliur Rahman.
Here’s their leaflet:
Alibor has also been getting out and about, knocking on people’s doors telling them “We’re bringing the council to you”. It’s extremely thoughtful and let’s hope he’s been making it clear he’s a councillor and not a council officer doing the rounds.
Because I’m sure he knows the distinction and I’m sure he knows how things are done properly.
Or does he?
Two months ago, Tower Hamlets Homes had something of a crisis moment when its chairman Barry Simons–a highly respected housing expert who had been director of housing at Newham, Redbridge and Hammersmith before his THH appointment in 2012–suddenly quit.
And in his bombshell resignation letter to the Mayor (whom he described as “an exceptional man”), he put the blame squarely at Alibor’s door.
He said Alibor had “made it impossible for the Board to function properly” and that “trust has broken down between Cllr Choudhury (and possibly other council nominees) and some other non-council Board members”.
The row centred on plans for a massive review of caretaking services by Tower Hamlets Homes. At the moment, they are too expensive and they fail satisfaction surveys. The way these costs are then allocated to leaseholders and tenants is a hugely controversial issue and it seems Lutfur has told THH to stop penalising leaseholders so heavily….and that’s fair enough.
But when Mr Simons wanted to stick to best corporate practice and discuss a report on the matter, Alibor threw his toys out of the pram and walked out. Maybe he had a more satisfying engagement elsewhere, I don’t know.
Trouble at Tower Hamlets Homes is becoming a traditional New Year message for this blog. The title of my first post in 2012 was “Lutfur’s putsch at Tower Hamlets Homes” when I warned that his takeover of the board with his own councillors was bound to cause trouble.
This is the trouble with Lutfur’s administration: they just seem like a bunch of cowboys.
Here’s Barry Simons’ resignation letter: