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Archive for December 8th, 2011

I don’t often find myself agreeing with the journalist Ted Jeory who writes for the Sunday Express, but I would like to congratulate him for his sterling work recently in reminding us of the terrible legacy of the Bhopal tragedy. Ted has been out in India, reporting from the scene of that terrible explosion. He condemns, as do I, the decision by the London Olympics Committee to accept sponsorship from Dow Chemicals.

 It is a real pity that we did not get time to debate the issue at our last full council meeting, but, as Ted knows, we were trying to establish the principle of having ‘recorded votes’ in the council chamber, not least because the Labour Group seems to be in open collusion with the Conservative Group these days. It was Labour’s reluctance to accept such elementary accountability that prevented us from getting to the motion on Bhopal. So the idea that there was deliberate filibustering somewhat misses the point.

Frankly, I find it difficult to believe that LOCOG could have gone ahead with this extremely insensitive decision. I also believe that there is still time for Lord Coe to take a stand. So I hope that the leaders of all the other political groups and individual councillors will join with me now in writing a letter of protest, demanding just that, to Lord Coe and LOCOG. I am circulating this letter to all councillors to ask if they would consider signing it.

 

Dear Lord Coe,

On behalf of the leaders of the political parties and councillors of Tower Hamlets, I am writing to you to request that LOCOG reconsider the decision to accept sponsorship for the Olympic Games from Dow Chemicals, which took over Union Carbide which was responsible for the appalling loss of life at the time of the explosion and bares some responsibility for the continuing suffering in Bhopal.

We find it strange that due diligence failed to establish that there is continuing anger and concern directed towards Dow Chemicals as the successor company. We also find it difficult to believe that you were unaware of the strength of feeling locally and internationally over the issue.

Tower Hamlets is one of the host borough for the London Olympic Games, and we are delighted to be closely involved with what we hope will be an enormous success. Our borough is also as diverse as it is multi racial, with many strong political and cultural links to the Indian sub continent.

We all hope that in the light of widespread public concern and protest, that you insist that LOCOG revisits its decisions to allow Dow Chemicals to sponsor the event as soon as is practically possible.

Yours sincerely,

Lutfur Rahman

Mayor of  Tower Hamlets

 

 

 

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The Big Society in action

The Guardian and the London School of Economics have produced a study of the recent disturbances entitled ‘Reading the Riots’. It makes for depressing reading. The study conveys a depth of alienation among sections of our youth which has worrying implications for the future, as well as suggesting that Britain may face years of public disorder.

I was pleased therefore to have the opportunity to address hundreds of socially conscious young people at The East London Communities Organisation’s (TELCO) 15th anniversary event last week.

TELCO are a remarkable success story. Since their establishment in 1996 they have established a reputation for successful and dynamic campaigns. From issues such as safer school routes and increasing the numbers of litter bins, to ending child detention in asylum centres and establishing a living wage, TELCO combine a distinctive campaigning voice with a reach that encompasses all communities.

My experience with TELCO has been mostly around the campaign for the living wage. I was proud to be able to be able to tell them that Tower Hamlets council is to increase the value of contracts with a commitment to living wage in the borough from £47.5m to £76.8m. We are going to extend the living wage to as many council contracts as allowed by law.

Our actions are further proof of the success of the living wage campaign and a partnership that has brought together the council, the unions and TELCO.

That, Mr Cameron, is the big society in action!

Congratulations to TELCO for 15th years of fantastic campaigning. I look forward to working with them to continue making Tower Hamlets a more equal and safer borough for all its citizens to enjoy.

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