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biggs2One of the reasons given for the disastrous move to a directly elected mayoral system of governance in Tower Hamlets in 2010 was it would end the inherent instability of the ‘leader and cabinet’ model.

The latter entailed the ruling party group, ie Labour councillors, voting each April for their leader. This led to endless faction fights that eventually resulted in the rise of Lutfur Rahman.

It turns out these were the halcyon days of Tower Hamlets politics. As I write, the party is again at war with itself in a tragic case of history repeating.

In most councils, I think I’m right in saying that what most people care about is the efficient running of frontline services: bins, schools, street lights, housing etc etc. In Tower Hamlets, the discussions among many politicos at least (but more widely as well) centre more on race and Islamophobia….and when will there be another Bengali mayor. Of course, these are then wrapped up as one.

So the smear tactics that eventually led to the ousting by a court of Lutfur Rahman are once again being deployed against Mayor John Biggs. On a Bengali TV political chat show tonight (‘Straight Dialogue’), the topics due for discussion were “police brutality, harassment, racism, hate crime, Islamophobia and any other issues of concern”.

Panel members due to appear included former Labour and Respect councillor Gulam Mortuza, ex-Labour councillor Abdal Ullah and, lo and behold, Shiraj Haque, who everyone knows as ‘Curry King’ and who used to boast he was Lutfur’s main financial backer until people started to realise that accolade actually resided with the taxpayer’s grants pot.

Mr Haque is a Labour member although for how long is another question. He is currently in league with former (Labour) council leader Helal Abbas and a number of others to “stand up for democracy” and ensure there is no stitch up over who is chosen as the party’s mayoral candidate in 2018.

One of the consequences of the Jeremy Corbyn and Momentum show at Westminster has been a significant increase in party membership in Tower Hamlets. [I am also told that influential activists have been busy buying up party memberships for people. One informed source told me this “has long been the custom in Tower Hamlets” so that you have people who can turn up to branch meetings and vote as puppets. Some convince themselves this is democracy in action but the reality is that it is fraud and if anyone has any information on this please do get in touch – confidentiality guaranteed.]

Possibly because the “wrong” kind of members may have joined (legitimately and otherwise), Labour has decided to very quickly settle the important issue of who will be its candidate for 2018.

A series of trigger ballots among all the borough party’s wards and affiliates has just got underway. The intention of the party leadership is to affirm there is no need for an open election process for the 2018 candidate and that the incumbent is automatically chosen, ie John Biggs.

It’s my understanding that John has genuinely impressed the Government appointed commissioners and senior officers who oversee and run the council. The council is regaining respect in Whitehall.

But for a great many people, and not just loons, this doesn’t really matter. For them, partly because of his character (dry and sometimes blunt), but more because he is not Bengali, it’s time for another Bengali mayor.

So they are seeing this decision to “impose” him as candidate for 2018 as an undemocratic stitch up. The rallying calls have gone out. These trigger ballots must be completed by November 16. Only those who were registered Labour members before April 16 are entitled to vote.

If he loses the trigger ballot (he has to win a majority of wards and affiliates), there will be new selection process. And that will mean new hats into the ring. What is probable if that happens is that John will not win.

Who those new hats may belong to is a fascinating question in itself. I am told Helal Abbas has not ruled himself out, although he also fancies himself to take over Jim Fitzpatrick’s seat in whatever becomes Poplar and Limehouse in 2020.

But the really wild card hat is Rabina Khan, who, with her husband Aminur Khan, yesterday quit the Tower Hamlets Independent Group. This was as I predicted last month when THING and Lutfur chose Ohid Ahmed as their 2018 candidate for mayor. I am told she was subjected to a certain degree of misogyny by some of her former group colleagues, which does not surprise me. So good on her.

 

img_3718So here’s the interesting scenario. Remember she is a former Labour councillor who defected to Lutfur in 2010. She and others would like to return. Senior local figures like Abbas have made it known that the party should be “reaching out” to her and others (to Ohid Ahmed, even), to draw a line and readmit them to the fold. Some regard this as breathtakingly cynical.

But I would not bet against it happening. And if she is readmitted, there is a very good chance that the woman who lost to Biggs in 2015 could defeat him in an internal selection process next year. Even if Biggs wins the Labour trigger ballot this month, she could take him on outside the Labour tent as an independent.

Oh, the machinations, eh… . Well, they’ve only just begun. Last night, the first of the affiliates to hold the trigger ballot, the Women’s Forum, descended into farce and acrimony — and resulted in an official complaint by Shiraj Haque to Labour’s general secretary Iain McNicol about the way it was conducted.

I have been sent a copy of that letter, which was copied to Jeremy Corbyn, Len McLuskey, Shami Chakrabarti, loads of others, and Christine Shawcroft. I’ve copied it below.

The facts are that 67 people signed in to vote, but somehow 80 ballots were cast (so the usual story, really). The organisers, Victoria Obaze and Catherine Overton, who are John Biggs supporters, say they had no choice but to declare the vote null and void. It is claimed by John’s opponents that the vote would have gone against him.

Over the next few days, there will be many more such ballots.

Oh, we also have the matter of the Whitechapel by election on December 1 after the demise of jailbird Shahed Ali who is serving time for housing tenancy fraud.

Labour is selecting its candidate tomorrow night. John I think favours ex-councillor Motin uz-Zaman, but Abbas, Khales Uddin and Shiraj Haque are said to be lobbying hard for Tarik Khan. (Update: Tarik denies this; at the shortlisting session on Wednesday night, Motin, Asma Islam (Wais’s wife) and Victoria Obaze were chosen: the full selection is Thursday night. This is also being viewed as a stitch up.) 

Oddly, THING is not putting up a candidate. A certain Shafi Ahmed is believed to be standing on behalf of something called the ‘Residents’ Alliance’ and THING are standing aside for him. Any more details on Mr Ahmed gratefully received.

Here’s the letter sent by Shiraj Haque and friends to Labour’s general secretary. One person who was at the meeting has told me the letter is “bollocks”.

 

Dear Mr McNicol,

Affirmative ballot for the mayoral candidate in Tower Hamlets

We write to formally inform you on behalf of a number of distressed members the Tower Hamlets Labour Party whom have been victims of intimidation, bullying, harassment and blackmailing by members of John Biggs’ campaign team; some of whom are senior and leading figures of the local Labour Party including Jim Fitzpatrick MP.

These allegations include threats of being blocked on shortlists of future councillor selections in Tower Hamlets, being expelled from the Labour Party and threatening to refuse and withhold support for community events.

Additionally, there are also serious concern of data protection violation whereby members of John Biggs’ campaign team have been seen with membership data when approaching members for support and it is unclear how such data was obtained and with which permissions.

It is quite clear that Mr Biggs’ team are clearly lobbying support for the trigger in every ward in Tower Hamlets which of course they are entitled to do, however in the process there are clear violations of due process taking place. We shall be following up this letter with evidence and affidavits which shall be sent to you shortly.

As you will be aware the first trigger ballots of Tower Hamlets Labour Party was from the Women’s Forum organised trigger ballot this evening, 1 November 2016 at 7pm at St Margaret’s Hall.

There was a large turnout of members. Many have complained about a lack of organisation, transparency and being denied access to the hall, being asked for photographic ID is which was not communicated beforehand and a new requirement for these types of meetings. Many members did have identity cards in their possession in form of student photo card, driving licence and so on, but due to not presenting their Labour Party membership cards they were asked to stand to a side of the hall, treated like outsiders and entryists and made to suffer humiliation in front of other members.

Finally when members demanded the production of Labour Party rulebook evidence stating that the only acceptable identity cards has to be Labour Party membership cards, they were allowed entry. The vast majority of the members did not receive notice of the meeting to attend this women forum ballot in the first place disenfranchise many eligible to attend and vote.

Members attended the meeting after hearing this via word of mouth and as a result the attendance was high, demonstrating that this is a vote members want to participate in and be heard on.

Many will be relatively new to the Party therefore unaware of the process and some of them did not carry their Labour Party membership cards. Those that did receive notice were not informed in that notice that they needed to bring proof of identification. It has come to our attention that a member and organiser known as Catherine Overton arrived at least half hour after the closing of the door. She was allowed to canvass for Mayor Biggs, take part in the voting process and become a teller while other women who arrived at the same time were turned away. A clear example of discrimination. Members were individually counted numerous times and had to sit through three registration and verification processes before the release of the ballot papers which was done by two people running through the attendee list and yet again verifying each member present individually before issuing them a single ballot paper. The public announcement by Victoria Obaze which announced the opening of the meeting during which she categorically stated that she was delighted that at least 80 members had turned up for the meeting.

The members explains their frustration and intimidation that they had suffered from some of the women councillors during this process. They were strongly advised by some of these women councillors and the organisers to support the trigger ballot in favour of Mayor John Biggs. These members state that upon the first counting of the ballot papers most of the councillors and organisers gathered around the counting table and started gossiping. They then announced to re-count the ballot papers again, but did not explain the reasons. They finally re-counted these papers up to four times before declaring the ballot to be invalid and gave their reasoning as receiving 80 completed ballot papers when they had only 67 members registered and the “discrepancy” in numbers was too large. One councillor went as far as to say publically that perhaps the ballots were tampered with while unattended and extra ballots added to the pile sending a message to members that their presence was unwelcome or some way underhand.

It would follow that if at the start of the meeting Victoria announced the number in attendance having completed the registration was 80 members, you would expect that same number of votes to be cast as was the case. How was there suddenly a 30 vote discrepancy which allowed the vote to be nullified?

For a women’s meeting late on a cold night to have a high turnout is something to be celebrated and encouraged. The above examples show a lack of respect for the wider membership by officers and councillors and makes a mockery of the efforts many women made to attend the meeting despite work, childcare and other commitments. It is unacceptable to Labour Party values of fairness, democracy and transparency to treat members this way. The Tower Hamlets membership list is perhaps one of the most scrutinised in the country and having undergone rigorous due diligence in recent years has been confirmed as robust and on the whole accurate. To treat members this way is appalling.

It is with regret the members wish to know from you whether the process applied tonight by the organisers and some of the councillors was the process held under the Labour Party rulebook.

In addition, we seek the Labour Party to immediately suspend the trigger ballot process in Tower Hamlets with immediate effect pending an independent investigation into our concerns raised above in order to ensure a fair and just process is adhered to. In the absence of any action we shall seek legal advice on this matter.

Yours faithfully,

Apsana Begum

Shiraj Haque

Sabina Akther

CC:

Jeremy Corbyn

Chris Weavers

Tarik Khan

Ali Craft

Dan Simpson

Ann Black

Claudia Webbe

Christine Shawcroft

Darren Williams

Rhea Wolfson

Peter Willsman

Francis Prideaus

Shami Chakrabarti

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Mayor Lutfur Rahman has form when it comes to supplying judges with court references for convicted criminals.

In 2011, as reported here, he wrote a lovely letter on behalf of minicab driver Zamal Uddin who was awaiting sentence for molesting a female passenger in Hoxton. Unusually, in that instance, the mayor wrote to me to explain himself.

zamal-uddin1

He said he’d been duped by Uddin’s family, that he thought he was being convicted of driving without a licence. Well, I guess we’re all human and we all make mistakes, even a fully qualified lawyer whose job is to pay attention to such detail.

It’s happened again, although this time I’m pretty sure Lutfur knew what he was doing.

Whenever I’m asked to give lectures about Tower Hamlets, I always cite this story: of how Mahee Jalil/Mohammed Ferdhaus, the boss and founder of Channel S television was kidnapped outside his Walthamstow office, bundled into the boot of a car, driven across London and hanged from the ceiling by his ankles while being tortured with scolding water poured over his testicles. He was then released by a sympathetic kidnapper and dumped by the side of the North Circular.

Of course, Mahee Jalil isn’t any ordinary businessman. He’s a crook. In 2008, he was convicted of a car insurance fraud and served time in jail.

It was after he reemerged from prison that he was given a Kray style treatment by an angry husband. This experience apparently made him see the light.

But he remains a powerful figure. He founded Channel S and although he still has (or had until recently) his own show, his name no longer appears on any legal documents connected to the station. This is convenient. Channel S was put under new management shortly before Ofcom’s latest ruling against it (more here).

Lutfur’s people, and Labour, are desperate to appear on Channel S. It’s the one media outlet that matters. This is why Lutfur hired at the public’s expense its reporter Mohammed Jubair to work as his media adviser (while still working for the station!); it’s why Tower Hamlets council gives it £10,000 a year for an annual awards show that is anything but One Tower Hamlets.

In short, the cowboy TV channel founded by crooked Mahee has been extremely friendly to Mayor Lutfur Rahman.

So the least Lutfur could do by way of thanks (and undoubtedly from some genuinely held conviction Mahee had changed his ways) was to try and help get his latest sentence minimised, this time for money-laundering some £500,000 from another car insurance scam. This money laundering took place while Mahee was on bail awaiting his previous sentence. He must have been so contrite.

I’ve not yet seen Lutfur’s full reference letter and no one from the council (which says it wants to tackle crime) wanted to comment yesterday.

However, Peter Golds has written to the council’s head of paid service Steve Halsey demanding a full investigation into the town hall’s links with Channel S. I can’t help thinking the council is bringing itself into disrepute.

Here’s the piece I wrote for the Express yesterday.

The photo is taken from Mahee’s last interview with Lutfur Rahman, which was uploaded on to YouTube in November last year, when the mayor was fully aware of Mahee’s latest predicament. (I’m going to moderate comments on this thread to ensure there is no reference to any other ongoing legal proceedings).

Lutfur_ferdhaus-460480

ONE of Britain’s most controversial mayors provided a glowing court reference yesterday to a convicted insurance fraudster who was then sentenced to three years in jail for money laundering.

Lutfur Rahman, the directly elected mayor of Tower Hamlets Council in east London, praised Mohammed Ferdhaus’s “instrumental role” in promoting Britain’s Bangladeshi community just minutes before he was sent to prison for the second time in six years.

Mr Rahman’s letter of praise made reference to Ferdhaus’s work with Channel S, an influential satellite TV station for British Bangladeshis and which has been warned by Ofcom for broadcasting biased coverage of the mayor’s policies.

Ferdhaus is the channel’s founder and was until recently a regular presenter.

He interviewed Mr Rahman, an independent who was expelled from Labour in 2010, on the channel as recently as last November.

Despite a previous jail sentence for insurance fraud, Ferdhaus has been named as one of the most powerful Bangladeshis in Britain.

However, a judge at Southwark Crown Court yesterday said another custodial sentence was the only possible outcome for his latest crime, laundering the money from a £1.9million crash for cash insurance scam.

Ferdhaus, 40, who is also known as Mahee Jalil, grinned as his sentence was read out and waved at supporters in the public gallery, saying “thank you” and “see you  soon”.

He helped flush funds generated by a team of fraudsters led by his brother, Mohammed Samsul Haque, 26.

Haque, together with five other men, had already been sentenced to a total of more than 12 years in prison.

More than 120 bogus insurance claims for luxury motors including Mercedes, Jaguars and BMWs were engineered by Haque through his company, Motor Alliance.

Cars were trashed at crash for cash drinking parties at Haque’s garage in Tottenham, north London, the court heard.

The gang rammed the vehicles into each other blocking out the noise with blaring music, before finishing the job with baseball bats.

Between November 2005 and October 2008, a series of London-based accident management firms were used as a front to hide their activities.

They also persuaded other drivers to provide their licence details to back up the insurance claims in return for small amounts of cash.

The firm raked in around £1.17million in profits from the scam, which was unearthed after police raided Motor Alliance and found 64 files relating to insurance claims in the boot of a silver Mercedes.

Ferdhaus had a “background” role in the firm and was involved in the scam between July 19, 2006 and October 31, 2008.

The media mogul tried to pin the blame on his innocent middle brother, Abdul, and maintained his innocence on the day he was due to stand trial in July last year.

He was jailed for 18 months in 2008 for conspiracy to defraud in respect of an almost identical earlier insurance scam between 2002 and 2003.

The businessman was on bail awaiting trial at the time he became embroiled in the later fraud.

Ferdhaus had suffered post traumatic stress disorder after being kidnapped at gunpoint outside his TV station offices in Walthamstow, east London and issued with a £250,000 ransom demand.

When he refused to pay his assailants they tortured him, hanging him upside down and pouring boiling water on his head, before threatening to rape his daughter.

He continues to endure psychological difficulties as a result of the ordeal in May 2011, shortly after he returned from a pilgrimage to Mecca, the court heard.

But sentencing, Judge Anthony Pitts said: “The proceeds of the fraud Motor Alliance received was something a little over £1m.

“Payments from the proceeds of the fraud were put into your account or accounts controlled by you.

“The proceeds of the fraud received by you was £500,000.

“It wasn’t proceeds which you suspected might be proceeds of fraud but of course which you knew were the proceeds of fraud.

“You are a highly intelligent man, there is no doubt about that and I have read a lot of good things about you.

“Of course you have suffered post traumatic stress disorder and anxiety and depression.

“But money laundering is a serious offence.

“You were close to the source of the fraud and you dishonestly handled £500,000.

“This offending by you is so serious that even given the lapse in time, largely for which you are responsible, an immediate custodial sentence of some length must be passed.”

Shaven headed and wearing a black jacket, grey sweater and jeans Ferdhaus bit his nails and held his head in his hands as he sat in the glass-enclosed dock during the hearing.

But he appeared cheerful as the sentence was passed, thanking the judge and giving a thumbs up to supporters in the packed public gallery.

He grinned and waved, telling them “thank you” and “see you soon” as he was led down to the cells.

Ferdhaus was also banned from being a director for 10 years.

Mark Milliken-Smith QC, defending Ferdhaus, said of his kidnapping: “The fact that he suffered post traumatic stress disorder is hardly surprising given the physical and mental ordeal he was subjected to.

“What happened to him in May 2011 was a very, very significant and life changing experience.

“This is a changed man.”

Ferdhaus received a glowing references, including the one from Mr Rahman, who described him as playing an “instrumental role” in promoting the Bangladeshi community through Channel S.

He has a “real desire to help others” and is a keen philanthropist in particular supporting those affected by natural disasters, the court heard.

“He has a selflessness which one doesn’t naturally associate with an individual concerned with personal greed,” Mr Milliken-Smith added.

Ferdhaus, from Brentwood, Essex, admitted possessing criminal property.

Samsul Haque, of Maida Vale, west London, was given five years in October 2011 after he admitted conspiracy to defraud between November 13, 2005 and October 16, 2008.

His lieutenant Rosul Yusuf, 33, was jailed for four years, while Shalim Miah, 29, received two years behind bars and Halimur Rashid, 28, was jailed for 15 months.

Nazruislam Muhammad Rahman, 32, and Noveed Akhtar, 40, both of whom were named in bogus claims made by Haque’s gang were given 12 month sentences suspended for 12 months.

Paul Ellis, 37, who pleaded guilty to providing six driving licences to Haque was given a six-month sentence suspended for 12 months.

Ellis and Rahman were ordered to carry out 100 and 140 hours of unpaid work respectively.

Today, Councillor Peter Golds, the leader of the Tory opposition in Tower Hamlets called for a council investigation into the town hall’s links with Channel S.

The council and the mayor declined to comment.

There is no suggestion that Lutfur Rahman had any involvement in the insuranceor money laundering scam.

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It’s being said the biggest problem John Biggs is going to have in beating Lutfur Rahman this May is his skin colour. Race and accusations of racism haunt Tower Hamlets politics like nowhere else.

The allegation is chucked around like confetti by politicians who really should be guarding and upholding the meaning of the word for those who are truly victims of it.

Very often those who feel so wronged are also sadly blind to the teeny-weeny possibility it’s they who might just possibly be the racist.

But are all parties institutionally racist to some degree? That’s possible as well.

anwarTake the case of Bow West councillor Anwar Khan. I wrote about him here last month when he was finally dropped as Labour candidate for the May election. I’d previously written that would have been a shame because as a successful professional in the City, he was a role model for young Bengalis.

At that time, I wasn’t aware he was in dispute with the council he represents over a parking issue. The allegation is that Anwar abused a parking  attendant, but Anwar says it was he who was abused. There’s an ongoing investigation.

Separately, there was another parking matter in which Anwar had been raising a number of member’s enquiries to argue a case for a constituent. Cllr Carlo Gibbs, Labour’s chief whip, made reference to that to the party’s selection panel, but apparently got his facts wrong. That said, there does seem to have been some concern in Labour circle about Anwar’s temper.

I’ve also been told that Anwar was involved in some smear campaign against John Biggs last year led by a former enemy of the Labour mayoral candidate. Anwar denies that as well.

When the deselection decision came through last month, Anwar said he would maintain a dignified and noble silence. He told me he’d maintain the moral high ground and wait to fight another day. He scoffed at the suggestion he might stand as a Lutfurite or help in the mayor’s campaign. He said he would make a more detailed statement in the New Year and when I asked him about the parking issue, he said he was unable to comment.

That conversation took place on December 11.

Yesterday, he sent me a press release that he’d sent out on December 18 in which he re-iterated comments he’d made that day at a press conference he’d called in Spitalfields. He forgot to invite me.

What he did say is detailed painstakingly here. This is a straight copy and paste from his press release and it’s worth reading all of it.

Labour Councillor Anwar Khan, representing Bow West in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, confirmed at a press conference in his home ward of Spitalfields that he will not be standing in the 2014 Local Government Elections.

Councillor Anwar Khan challenged John Biggs AM, City and East to provide valid reasons for his deselection and felt that the bullying that he has been subjected to has been an injustice to the community that he has served for the last four years.

Councillor Anwar Khan raised serious questions about the integrity of the selection process. Councillor Anwar Khan attached an email that went to the Labour Party selection committee from the current serving Chief Whip, Councillor Carlo Gibbs representing the St. Peters ward.

In that email, Councillor Anwar Khan confirmed that there were false accusations and lies that influenced the decision of the committee.

Councillor Anwar Khan said “there has been a false allegation made about a parking ticket incident, which is not true. I have not received a parking ticket for about 4 years”.

He continued, “Looks like John Biggs and the Labour superiors haven’t learnt from the dodgy dossiers in 2010. We have yet another set of lies and another dodgy dossier. This certainly is a déjà vu moment, one dodgy dossier is bad enough, but two goes to show the heart of Labour politics needs be more transparent and removed of the nastiness”.

Councillor Anwar Khan said “ if that wasn’t enough, Carlo Gibbs, Johns Biggs Chief Whip, hit the nail in the head with an email suggesting that he has the power to “stitch me up” if he wanted to. The exact quote from Carlo Gibbs is “if I wanted (or still did want) to stitch you up, I could easily have given them some of the emails”.

I am disgusted and horrified that John Biggs and Carlo did not allow the course of the selection process to work and this email just proves, the selection process overseen by John Biggs wasn’t whiter than white”.

Councillor Anwar Khan also questioned, it seems odd, that John decided to deselect genuine hard working Labour Councillors in favour of defected Respect activists. He said “Hard working sitting Labour councillors and activists are ditched in favour of Respect members, this doesn’t make sense”.

See attached email evidence from Carlo Gibbs – “stitch up email” and the “dodgy email” about the parking ticket.

Councillor Khan stated that on one hand, Johns Biggs AM (also proxy Leader of Labour Group) talks about, making politics in Tower Hamlets healthier and cleaner, such as the motion agreed in council on the allegations against the Mayor on paid canvassers in the last council meeting.

Councillor Anwar Khan said “it strikes me that John Biggs is accusing others of nasty politics, when he needs to get his house in order first”. The lies and false information from the Chief Whip shows that this isn’t the case and this is certainly not healthy for the good people of Tower Hamlets.

Councillor Anwar Khan said, “what was stopping John from asking me, whether I received a parking ticket or not and why did he feel the need to use Carlo to do the dirty work and write these false emails”.

Councillor Khan also confirmed that he was given an additional interview, which was one more than everyone else, which is unfair to all those who only got one.

He said, “it looks like they have been after me and simply fishing for a reason, in the additional interview, a regional officer, who was supposed to be an observer led the questioning, I think that was quite unfair, and I am concerned that he may have been subject to information that was provided by third parties, he even said that he was only an observer and won’t do any questioning”.

He went on to say “it is also surprising that others were only interviewed once, then why was I interviewed twice.”

Anwar Khan continued “in the Whips report that was prepared by Carlo Gibbs, once again there was reference to a “disciplinary matter”, that disciplinary matter, was actually me trying to do my job as a councillor to help a resident get a parking permit. If Carlo just asked me, why I have been challenging officers, I would have given him an explanation, that it was an ongoing issue for about 4 years where the resident has been misled about his car parking permit, I have tried to help the resident and the council have been unreasonable, as the resident was lied to that his new house offered a street permit, when in actual fact it was a car free zone.

Why and how that becomes a disciplinary matter is quite beyond belief, I was just doing my job to serve my constituents, what I was elected to disciplinary matter. And how can this be a disciplinary matter, they didn’t give me a chance to explain that.

All very botched up and this isn’t the reason I came into politics, I came into politics to represent people and that’s exactly what I did. I am a community councillor, not a town hall technocrat or bureaucrat”.

Councillor Anwar Khan, said, “there have been no reasons provided to me with regards to the reasons for my deselection. I have worked hard for the people of Bow, and I am confident there is not a single complaint against me from the community. I have one of the highest member’s enquiry rates”.

Member’s enquiries are a key measure of how effectively councillors are representing their constituents. He said, that the community should decide on which Councillors are hard working and which Councillors aren’t, they should review the members enquiry numbers for themselves.

Councillor Anwar Khan said “as his Shadow Cabinet Lead for Employment, I led the policy forum on economic growth and employment in Tower Hamlets.,

John talks about helping young graduates into jobs in the City and Canary Wharf, I am a local graduate working in the City and have helped many people into jobs in Canary Wharf, then why has John deselected me, it seems to me, that as soon as they fear that someone from the Bengali community is outspoken, and can challenge John’s politics, they easiest thing to do is to remove them. Why remove someone who has achieved something that you want other young people to achieve.

– ENDS – 

Notes:

1. Councillor Anwar Khan was elected in 2010 in the ward of Bow West, winning a conservative seat from Anwara Ali, a local GP.

2. Councillor Anwar Khan has lived in Tower Hamlets all his life, went to Osmani Primary School, Swanlea School. He studied in Newham Sixth Form and later achieved his undergraduate degree in Cass Business School, and has a Masters in Global Politics.

3. Councillor Anwar khan, lives in Spitalfields with his family

4. Councillor Anwar Khan works in the financial services industry in the City of London

5. Councillor Anwar Khan also served in Shadow Cabinet in all years, including holding the role of Shadow Cabinet Member for Resources and is currently the Shadow Cabinet Member for Economic Growth, Regeneration and Employment.

6. Councillor Anwar Khan was the Chief Whip for the first 3 years. During his term he also served as the Chairman of the Pensions Committee.

7. Councillor Anwar Khan has been one of the longest serving Chief Whips in the Labour Group. 

A lot to take in I agree and such injustices, but I was grabbed by this line in particular:

as soon as they fear that someone from the Bengali community is outspoken, and can challenge John’s politics, they easiest thing to do is to remove them

I asked him if he genuinely believed what amounted to an allegation of racism and he said he stood by his words. He said John wanted a group he could control, people who went ‘yes sir, no sir, three bags full, sir’. He said John had reacted badly when he, Anwar, challenged John’s choice for a health scrutiny role. John would dump anyone who stood up to him, he added.

And then came the poisoned arrow.

He asked how many of the current crop of Labour Bengali councillors are unemployed or “have ever had a proper job”. He said John was encouraging young people to go to university and look for a job, yet he was picking candidates who were the very opposite of that while deselecting him and Mizan Chaudhury, a professional civil servant.

So I asked a friend of his who he had in mind. Well, said this friend, look at the following:

Cllr Abdul Mukith Chunu – unemployed, serves as board member for Spitalfields housing association 

Cllr Rajib Ahmed – mini cab driver

Cllr Abdal Ullah – unemployed/ BBPower100 consultant/ President of Stepney FC/showboating councillor who does community radio

Cllr Motin Uz Zaman – long term unemployed 

Cllr Helal Abbas – Charity Outreach worker

Cllr Siraj Islam – works part time for two days a week at East London Business Alliance

Cllr Khales Uddin Ahmed – owns a restaurant in Bexley Heath

Cllr Helal Uddin – director at Bromley by Bow centre

Sanu Miah – St Peter’s candidate – long term unemployed and unsuccessful businessman

Faruk Ahmed – Whitechapel candidate – Works for Sonali Otith football club  

Cllr Shiria Khatun – community worker 

I suggested that many of these jobs, eg Rajib working as a minicab driver, meant they were more likely to be in touch with constituents than full time City professionals like Anwar. But the friend said “at least he lives in Tower Hamlets”.

There’s a few more things I could write from my discussions but I think this is enough for now!

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Labour’s Abdal Ullah will submit this motion, time permitting, to the full meeting of Tower Hamlets council next Wednesday.

Tackling crime in Tower Hamlets

Proposer: Cllr Abdal Ullah

Seconder: Cllr Shiria Khatun

This Council notes:

–       That by the Metropolitan Police’s own figures crime in Tower Hamlets has increased 9% since 2010.

–       Over the same period crime in neighbouring Hackney was down 3% and in Newham down 6%.

–       In 2011/12 there were almost 20,000 reported incidents of anti-social behaviour.

–       Tower Hamlets has the second highest levels of anti-social behaviour in London (p. 149)

–       Figures in the Community Safety Plan, buried on page 130, show that between October 2009 and September 2012 robberies were up 50%, knife crime was up 49%

–       In the 2013 Annual Residents Survey 41% of people said crime was one of their top three concerns, this was the biggest overall concern from residents.

–       The Mayor’s Community Safety Plan makes no reference to the significant increases in crime and ASB nor does it give a true appreciation of the key challenges facing the borough.

–       The Mayor vetoed Labour’s proposal at the 2011 Budget to fund 17 new police officers.

This Council Believes:

–       That the Mayor’s complacent approach to crime has meant the Council has not been focused on tackling what residents see as the most important issue facing our borough.

–       The borough needs a Mayor who will show leadership in facing up to and challenging anti-social behaviour, tasking council officers appropriately and working in partnership with other organisations including the police.

This Council further notes:

–       Neighbourhood policing has been essentially destroyed – many wards now have just one PC and one PCSO.

–       The positive impact of the Safer Neighbourhood Teams which were introduced by the Labour Government and Labour Council in Tower Hamlets. That the SNTs helped to not only reduce crime in Tower Hamlets but also increased public confidence in the police.

–       The changes introduced by Boris Johnson which have cut Safer Neighbourhood Teams to the bone by cutting the teams to one police officer and one police community support officer per ward, down from six officers under Labour.

–       The CSP figures show that incidences of arson in the borough are down 31% since 2009/10.

–       Boris Johnson continues to pursue his plan to close half of the borough’s police stations as well as closing Bow fire station and halving the number of fire engines at Whitechapel.

This Council further believes:

–       The neighbourhood policing model introduced by the last Labour Government and piloted by the Labour council was a strong and successful model for local policing.

–       Under the current Mayor of London neighbourhood policing has been significantly dismantled.

–       The current Mayor of Tower Hamlets has completely failed to protect the community policing model which was so successful after Labour introduced it.

–       Boris Johnson’s cuts to police and fire stations in the borough will have a detrimental effect on community safety.

–       The closure of Bow and cuts at Whitechapel fire station will not only reduce capacity but also put additional pressure on the remaining stations and staff. This will in turn reduce their ability to undertake fire prevention outreach work and could threaten to reverse the positive gains made over previous years.

This Council resolves:

–       To condemn the Mayor of Tower Hamlets for his failure of leadership in tackling crime and anti-social behaviour.

–       To reassert the importance of strong and locally integrated neighbourhood policing team and to support Labour’s approach to reassert a neighbourhood policing model.

–       To reiterate Labour’s call for the Mayor to support and fund new police officers as opposed to additional THEOs.

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Here are the list of questions the Labour group will pose to Mayor Lutfur Rahman at next Wednesday’s full meeting of Tower Hamlets council.

None of them will be answered by him of course.

Denise Jones has an intriguing angle.

Councillor Question                                    

Cllr Rachael Saunders

Is the Mayor prepared to be honest about how his re-election campaign is being funded?
Cllr Carlo Gibbs Why has the Mayor suspended the community chest and transferred the funds to the community events fund?
Cllr Shiria Khatun Why has enough not been done to reduce ASB on the brownfield estate in my ward?
Cllr Abdal Ullah What has the Mayor done about the decimation of Safer Neighbourhood police teams?
Cllr John Pierce What has the Mayor of Tower Hamlets done to improve cycle safety in the borough? 
Cllr Denise Jones Does the mayor agree that fraud has no place in our politics?
Cllr Ann Jackson Can the Mayor enlighten us on the allocation of social housing in the Olympic park on a per borough basis and the rationale used for allocation?
Cllr Joshua Peck What assessment has the Mayor made of the supply of large family homes (over three bed) in the open market in the borough and what does he plan to do to ease the shortage to allow growing families to stay in the borough?
Cllr Anwar Khan What is the current vacancy rate in each of the borough’s town centres?
Cllr MA Mukit How many incidents of anti-social behaviour in Weavers over last year?
Cllr Marc Francis Can the Deputy Mayor and Lead Member for Community Safety services tell us what action is being taken to improve the safety of residents in Fish Island using the Hackney Cut and Hertford Union canal towpath?
Cllr Zenith Rahman Why does the Mayor think almost 20,000 incidences of anti-social behaviour in one year is acceptable? If he doesn’t, why hasn’t he acted?

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