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Archive for April, 2012

Below is my letter to the editor of the Daily Telegraph.

Dear Mr Gallagher,

Last week, your reporter, Andrew Gilligan, made serious allegations about alleged postal voting irregularities (‘Tower Hamlets election fraud: here’s some more evidence’, Telegraph Online April 26th).

I take claims such as these extremely seriously. I have made it clear that anyone who has suspicions of electoral malpractice should immediately report them to the police, the electoral commission and to the local authority.

Council officials, having reviewed the claims made by your reporter, have found that the two individuals, who it was alleged were not entitled to vote, were in fact entitled to do so.

The police have confirmed that there is no substance to the allegations made by Andrew Gilligan.

Even if Andrew Gilligan were to offer to make a correction or indeed apologise to the families concerned, the damage caused to Tower Hamlets by such irresponsible reporting has already been made. Given Andrew Gilligan’s record in his dealings with me and my administration, I do not expect an apology to be forthcoming. Sadly, it is instances such as these which brings journalism into disrepute. It also explains why the current Leveson Inquiry into standards in the media is so important.

 In advance of the recent by-election in the Spitalfields Ward, referred to in Gilligan’s report, council officials conducted extra visits to over 4,700 electors in the days before the electoral register closed.

 As a result, some 890 electors were removed from the register, as they had moved address. In our borough there is a historically high turnover of residents. None of this was referred to in the report.

 As Andrew Gilligan will know, I am on record as saying that if anyone has any real evidence of voting irregularities, they need to report it to the police and the relevant authorities. And as Andrew Gilligan will also know, I have long called for reform of the postal voting system, a system that was not advocated by me, and a system that is clearly open to potential abuse in communities of all colour and religion across the United Kingdom.

 Yours sincerely,

 Lutfur Rahman

Mayor of Tower Hamlets

 

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I worked for 10 years with both Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson as chief adviser to City Hall on urbanism and regeneration — and I am convinced that Ken best meets the needs of Londoners.

More here.

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Last night’s by-election victory in Spitalfields and Banglatown ward was a stunning result for my administration.

Despite the local Labour group pouring massive resources into the ward, they suffered a huge swing to Independent candidate Gulam Robbani.

I am proud to welcome Gulam onto my team. Gulam is a well-known figure in the borough, and has years of service to the Labour movement under his belt. His expertise in the area of health and social care has proved invaluable and I know that he has the qualities to make a great local champion for Spitalfields.

The main reason the Labour Group’s candidate lost is that they failed to address the issues the voters are most concerned about; jobs, housing, education and crime.

Instead they resorted to the kind of negative campaigning the Tories are currently running against Ken Livingstone.

 The voters in Tower Hamlets are tired of dirty politics.

They responded positively on the doorstep to the fact that my administration is building 1,000 new affordable homes a year; has reintroduced the Educational Maintenance Allowance, is creating jobs and putting more police on our streets.

We are delivering the kinds of improvements to residents that would make any Labour administration proud, and puts plenty to shame.

In a week which saw grave warnings that government benefit reforms could deny free school meals to thousands of families, voters expect politicians to work together to protect our borough from a callous Tory government determined to make the poorest in our society bear the brunt for an economic crisis caused by the richest.

The sooner the Labour Group wake up to that fact, the sooner we will be able to reunite progressive forces in the East Endand focus on the real enemy.

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UKIP and EDL back Boris

Boris Johnson continues to win support from the anti-Muslim right for his bid to be re-elected to the Londonmayoralty. Following on from his endorsement by the English Defence League’s football hooligan section, UKIP is now calling on its supporters to cast their second preference vote for Johnson.

 More here

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Ken cares

Tory strategy for the London Mayoral election is simple; keep the focus on personality and divert voters from the policy. There is good reason for this; Boris has actually done very little during his time in office worth talking about. Hence the gigantic smokescreen about Ken’s taxes. As Mehdi Hasan points out, Londoners need a Mayor who will protect them in time of recession. Boris has failed on that score. Ken cares. It is not an accident that his brilliant election broadcast is about Londoners. Boris Johnson’s is about himself…

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This weeks East End Life features a double spread on the opening of the new Isle of Dogs Children’s Centre in Stebondale Street. This is a fantastic resource for local families and will provide access to a wide variety of children services. As East End Life report ‘from first aid training, story and rhyme sessions and trips and information to support employment and training opportunities, the centre is gearing up to ensure that residents receive the best service’.

For information about your nearest children’s centre, call the Family Information Service on 7364 6495 between 8am & 6pm, Monday-Friday or email on fis@towerhamlets.gov.uk

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I fully support the principles of the Occupy movement, and I will always defend their right to protest. However, I do feel that occupying parks in Tower Hamlets such as Mile End Park, to build and extend their project is unwise.

 

Since the first tents were pitched at St Paul’s Cathedral, politicians (including those within the Labour movement) who initially ridiculed Occupy were forced to eat their words as Occupy made a real impact, putting individualism and capitalism’s flaws well and truly on the agenda and winning popular support for doing so from senior members of the Church of England itself.

 

But Mile End Park is in a predominantly residential area, not a financial district. Overcrowding is a serious problem, and it’s tricky enough for local mums to go about their daily business, taking their kids to school and going out to work, on the best of days.

 

In such a dense urban environment, we have very few green spaces and they’re needed for our local residents.

 

I feel Occupy will do their movement a disservice, by occupying a local park where local kids play football and senior citizens walk their dogs.

To those protesters in Mile End, I say this: Don’t think for one minute that I don’t stand with you shoulder to shoulder in your rejection of widening inequalities and the worshipping of a glitzy financial elite, and in your strife for a fairer alternative. But remember that East Enders are the epitome of the 99% – don’t inconvenience the very people whose corner you are fighting.

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