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Archive for November, 2011

Read my Morning Star article in support of tomorrow’s day of action to defend public sector pensions here

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Ken’s ‘challenge to Boris Johnson will draw deeply on Labour roots and traditions: people power, not banker’s bankrolls; grassroots struggle, not posh pals; “fighting as the underdog,” not as the moneybags top dog.

Read Dave Hill’s report on the launch of Ken’s Fare Deal campaign here

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Victoria Park in Tower Hamlets is one of three open spaces selected to be at the heart of London Live – the extravaganza celebrating the arrival of the Olympic Games in the capital.

It will joinHyde ParkandTrafalgar Squarein being transformed by event promoters Live Nation into giant fan parks with the sport screened live, free entertainment and activities to take part in.

Full story in The Wharf

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‘Cut London Fares’

Fares in London just keep going up (Report, 18 November). Instead of debating how much they should go up, let’s prove things can be different by cutting them. Since 2008, thanks to the Tory mayor of London, a single bus fare has risen by 56%. A zone 1-6 Travelcard is up 22%. But every year the mayor raises far more money from Londoners’ fares than his own budgets say he needs. In the last year alone, the unplanned operating surplus was £728m. The mayor should be putting that money back into people’s pockets. With VAT, inflation, student fees and unemployment all up, ordinary people are feeling the pinch. London already has the highest cost of living in Britain. Fairer fares would relieve some of the pressure on Londoners and put money back into the economy. Ken Livingstone is proposing a 5% cut in fares to be introduced in autumn 2012. We back a fares cut for Londoners and call for a halt to endless above-inflation rises.

Jarvis Cocker, Benjamin Zephaniah, Len McCluskey General secretary, Unite the Union, Billy Hayes General secretary, CWU, Owen Jones, Zoe Williams

From the Guardian letters page.

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The highly respected, independent think tank Demos , have produced a new report on patriotism. Some of its findings will challenge some widespread opinions. For a starter, they found British Muslims have a greater sense of national pride than the average UK citizen.

When asked to agree or disagree with the question ‘I’m proud to be a British citizen’, 83% of Muslims said they agreed. The figure for non-Muslims was 79%.

 I hope somebody passes this on to the Prime Minister, David Cameron.

 It was only last February, in a speech delivered in Munich, that the Prime Minister proclaimed that multiculturalism had ‘allowed the weakening our collective identity’ and ‘failed to provide a vision of society’ in which people feel they want to belong.

Cameron’s comments were depressing and wide of the mark. They show just how out of touch he is with much of urban Britain.

Even though his Munich speech had more nuance to it than the media headlines, it was the sound bites that shaped the story, adding further to a perception of a Muslim community whose religious and cultural identity was at odds with its British identity.

 This report challenges a very widespread, and very damaging, view and peddled by some in the media who should simply know better.

One of the report’s other findings is that British Muslims have a greater appreciation of our political freedoms than other UK citizens.

 I was not surprised by this. Many British Muslims have family in countries where lip service is paid democracy and the rule of law. We know only too well what military dictatorship can look like, and how corrosive corruption and bribery can be to the political process.

What Muslims really appreciate about Britain is its sense of fair play and live and let live attitude.

These values are woven into our multicultural society. Rather than unpick that fabric, as too many of our politicians attempt to do, we should all be doing more to stitch it all together.

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One of the most short sighted policies that the Conservative led government has pushed through has been the abolition of the Education Maintenance Grant. £30 a week may not sound much to millionaire cabinet ministers, but believe you me, it does to our young people, especially in Tower Hamlets in east London.

From my article in the Huffington Post. More here

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Press release

Mayor Rahman demands Boris takes action on cyclists’ safety concerns

Following concerns raised by Tower Hamlets residents, Mayor Lutfur Rahman has called on Boris Johnson to take immediate action to make London’s roads safer for cyclists.

Last week’s tragic death of a cyclist at the Bow Roundabout – a highway managed by TfL – follows another fatal incident last month and other collisions involving cyclists this year. Mayor Rahman has now demanded that something is done to prevent further deaths in the borough and across London.

Lutfur Rahman, Mayor of Tower Hamlets said:

“Cycling has grown in popularity immensely in recent years, and it’s great to see so many people using their bikes to get around the borough, and keeping fit in the process.

“But we cannot ignore the safety issues that still exist. Much is being done to encourage people in London to cycle, but has enough been done to make the roads safe enough for cyclists to use?

“The sad death of another cyclist in our borough highlights the need for more effective safety measures, and I urge the Mayor of London to take action now to ensure both cyclists and drivers can use London’s roads safely.”

Tower Hamlets Council has implemented a number of initiatives to promote safe cycling in the borough such as free cycling training sessions for anyone that lives, works or studies in Tower Hamlets.

Specific training on cycling around HGVs – a particularly concern of many cyclists – is included in this scheme. The council also works with the police to run the Exchanging Places events, which give cyclists the opportunity to sit in an HGV cab and get a driver’s perspective on how difficult it can be to see cyclists on roads.

More information on cycling in the borough, including safe cycle maps, is available from the council’s website at: www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/cycling.

-ENDS-

For urgent media queries out of office hours, please call the on-call Communications Officer: 07852 273 984

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There’s some financial respite for residents of Tower Hamlets afterMayorLutfur Rahman confirmed Council Tax is to be frozen for the third year in a row.

 

Coverage of our council tax freeze here and here.

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Blatter’s blather

This week Tower Hamlets has been taking part in the national ‘Youth Week’ initiative. It’s a great idea designed to promote the range of opportunities available to 13 to 19 year olds outside school. The theme of the event is ‘Bringing Communities Together’.

Fostering greater community cohesion is one of my top priorities. Imagine my despair then when I heard that football’s most senior figure has denied that racism is a problem in the game. When it does happen, Sepp Blatter says it’s really all part of on-field banter and should be resolved between players with a handshake.

Blatter’s message only encourages bigotry. Worse, one football expert says this was not a case of foot-in-mouth, but a quite a deliberate attempt to pander to racism in the football world for self serving reasons. His comments are disgrace and he should be forced to resign.

Football has made great strides in the last 30 years eradicating racism from the game. We can’t allow that work to be undone. In a week when the family of Stephen Lawrence once again seek justice, and on day when Duwayne Brooks, who was with Stephen on the night of his murder, gave evidence in court, we know only too well where racism can lead.

It is simply wrong for Blatter to remain as head of Fifa.

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Press Release

Tower Hamlets Council Tax to be frozen again says Mayor

Council Tax in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets is to be frozen for the year 2012-13.

This will be the third year in a row that council tax has been frozen.

In proposals to be discussed over the coming months and verified at the February/March 2012 council meeting, council officers have been asked to prepare financial plans that do not include a council tax rise. This is in line with recent local practice and government policy.

Mayor Lutfur Rahman said, “”In these austere times our residents are finding it more and more difficult to pay basic household bills. We as a council must do every thing to help. Freezing Council Tax this year is one way we can leave more money in our residents’ pockets.

I have asked officers to prepare a budget to deliver improved services without increasing the financial burden on local people. My full budget proposals will be set out in a Cabinet paper for January 2012.”

 

For more information contact

Takki Sulaiman

Tower Hamlets Council

Phone: 020 7364 4396

Mobile: 07984 369 785

Email: takki.sulaiman@towerhamlets.gov.uk

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