Archive for August, 2012

Tower Hamlets Council has announced plans for a new council tax benefit scheme to compensate for welfare funding cuts made by the coalition Government. The Government will reduce funding for local authorities under the national council tax benefit scheme by 10 per cent, taking effect from April 2013. According to Tower Hamlets Council this will result in a loss of £2.7 million from its budget.

Read the full story here.

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Like most people, I’ve been very much caught up in the Olympic fever as Team GB makes battle in the London Games. No-one could have predicted how well our brilliant athletes would do. Whilst we are currently only half-way through the Games, to have sustained third-place in the medals table, pipped to the post only by the US and China, whose competing athletes outnumber ours by miles, is a remarkable achievement.

I am truly proud of every member of Team GB, who have flown the flag for our nation in such a spectacular way. It’s also great to see East Londoners such as Perri Shakes-Drayton at the forefront of our efforts.

I want to build on these triumphs as we look to the next Games in Rio, and beyond. The amount of young sporting talent I see on a day-to-day basis as I visit schools across Tower Hamlets is truly immeasurable. But worryingly, the potential for this talent to prosper is under threat as the Conservative government has severely cut back on funding for school sports.

In doing so they have turned the clock back on a lot of good work done by the Labour government which saw the proportion of pupils doing two or more hours per week of sport in school rocket from 25% to 90%. This is before we even get to the disastrous decision to scrap Building Schools for the Future which was in the process of giving schools across the country state of the art sports facilities. And I was further shocked to read in this morning’s Guardian that the Tories have sold off 21 school playing-fields in the short time they’ve been in office.

I join former Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell in calling on the government to reverse these retrograde decisions. Only then will our budding young athletes be able to realise their true potential and keep up the amazing trajectory we’re seeing in London 2012, so that in future Games we can give the US and China a run for their gold!

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‘8.15 a.m., August 6, 1945. Our hometown was reduced to ashes by a single atomic bomb. The houses we came home to, our everyday lives, the customs we cherished – all were gone’.

This quote is from the Mayor of Hiroshima describing the dropping of the atomic bomb on his city 67 years ago today. You can read his full statment here.

To mark the anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki there is a small exhibition on display in the foyer of the Town Hall.

Please help make our world free of nuclear weapons. Support Mayor’s for Peace, join CND.

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Last night, I was pleased to attend an Iftar (fast-breaking) gathering, held by Citizens UK.

This organisation is Britain’s hub of community organising, bringing together charitable groups, churches, mosques, synagogues, the Salvation Army, schools and universities. They believe that by bringing people together, talking, campaigning and organising real improvements to people’s everyday lives can be achieved.

Citizens UK are in the business of reweaving the fabric of society. I’ve always been a great fan of theirs, and of their East London chapter TELCO Citizens, and I’ve worked closely with them on a number of campaigns including when I led Tower Hamlets to be Britain’s first living-wage borough in 2008.

It was a packed-out event, and I gave an impassioned speech, praising their record of perseverance and imaginative campaigning. I can’t stress enough how important the Citizens’ work is, and I wish them all the best in continuing to campaign for noble causes in the future.

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Meeting troops and local residents

Lutfur with troops and local residentsYesterday, I met with representatives from the Armed Forces at a community engagement event at Wapping Gardens.

The troops, many of whom are stationed at Tobacco Dock, were in the park to meet with the local residents to explain what they have been doing in the area as well as to get them involved in some military style physical challenges.

It was really good to hear about what the troops have been doing. They are here to do an important job, ensuring the peace and security of the city during the Olympics, and I am fully behind them in their task.

It was good to see local residents, including many parents and children from the area, come along and get involved in the various obstacle courses set up around the park.

All in all, it was a fun day and most importantly, it demonstrated that the troops and local residents are living harmoniously side-by-side. Many residents told me that the troops were extremely good neighbours, and the commanding officer, Lt Col Brian Fahy, told me how grateful he was for the welcoming spirit with which the troops had been received.

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Paths to Gold

Lutfur demonstrating Paths to Golds on an iPadOn Tuesday, I was pleased to launch the Paths to Gold app for smartphones, at the historical Tower of London. With the Paths to Gold app you can truly discover the heart of the East End. You will never be lost for something to do in Tower Hamlets -the gateway to the Olympics!

We are lucky to be able to offer something for everyone, from pleasant strolls by the river Thames and the Tower of London to the rich spices and flavours in Brick lane – the Olympic Curry Capital.

You can download the app for free from Google Play or iTunes app store. I hope you’ll download Paths to Gold, and enjoy using it to explore and experience more of the East End for yourself.


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Well done to our female athletes

Helen Glover and Heather Stanning, who received gold medals this weekEarlier this year, to celebrate International Women’s Day, I expressed my hope that that 2012 will be a year of recognition for our female sport stars, many of whom have dedicated their lives to pursuing excellence in their discipline, without receiving the respect and accolades they deserve.

I am delighted the last few days have demonstrated that my hope is well on the way to being realised.

There has been overwhelming interest, success, and energy buzzing around the women’s games and tournaments. This is, I am sure, in no small part due to the fact that for the first time in Olympic history, women from all participating countries will be competing.

There have been some brilliant displays of women’s sport and I am not at all surprised by the overwhelming attention towards the women’s football games given the fierce competition and real sense of gaming spirit alive in the sport.

Our Olympic heroines, Glover and Stanning have definitely done us proud. Their success is one that will not only boost enthusiasm amongst Team GB supporters but also young women to get more involved in mainstream sport.

Malaysian Olympian Nur Suryani Mohammed Taibi’s achievements are also extraordinary and inspirational. Despite being heavily pregnant, her perseverance and dedication to the Games have proven admirable.

The impressive achievements of a younger generation of sportswomen has also been remarkable. Both 16 year old Ye Shiwen and 15 year old Ruta Meilutyte have shown amazing skills in the swimming and I am sure their successes will generate a powerful wave of young successful female athletes amongst our younger generations.

This was why I was delighted to attend our Sports4Women Festival in July at Mile End Park Leisure Centre, which encouraged more women to participate in sport. There will be activities organised by Sports4Women throughout the summer at Whitechapel and Tiller Leisure Centres.

This is an exciting time for not only our female Olympians but also for aspiring sports women across the globe and in our borough.

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Lutfur with the German Ambassador and the Home Secretary

For the Olympic period, the Museum of London Docklands, in Canary Wharf, has become Deutsches Haus – German House – the cultural home of the German delegation visiting Britain for London 2012. Last night I was pleased to attend the venue for a party thrown by the German Ambassador in London.

Georg Boomgaarden (pictured above) expressed profound gratitude on behalf of the delegation for the warmth of welcome with which they had been received by East London.

Lutfur with the German Interior Minister, Hans-Peter FriedrichThe Ambassador had invited an impressive list of dignitaries – ranging from the UK CEOs of Hugo Boss and Mercedes Benz and the German Interior Minister Dr Hans-Peter Friedrich to Germany’s best athletes who had secured their country Olympic medals that day, and our very own Home Secretary Theresa May who, clearly needing a break from dealing with the incompetence of G4S, also found time to drop by.

I was particularly honoured to welcome Thomas Bach, Vice-President of the International Olympic Committee, to the Olympic borough of Tower Hamlets? I spent the evening selling our borough to the international audience.

I do hope that members of the German delegation will have the opportunity to see more of the East End. I am proud that their home is in our borough, and wish them a pleasant and fruitful stay in Tower Hamlets. I also recommend that local residents take the opportunity to visit the ‘Fan Fest’ at the German House, which is open to the public, where one can enjoy watching the games, German food and drinks and live music on stage every night.

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Boris’s high wire act

Lutfur, Boris and Olympic volunteersThis afternoon I visited the Live Nation site at Victoria Park with the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

The Live Site is a great hub of food, drink, live music and other entertainment, as well as boasting gigantic screens on which local residents can watch the latest action from the Olympic Games.

Mayor Johnson insisted on trying out the giant zip-wire, which runs across the breadth of the park. In fact, he was the first person to try the wire since it opened today and, as often happens when something is first tested, there were a few teething problems: the pulley got stuck half way across and Boris found himself suspended mid-air for a good 10-15 minutes. Once he had been rescued by the able hands of the livesite staff and our Parks team, we met a group of Olympics volunteers to thank them for their enthusiastic approach and hard-work throughout this period.

The Games certainly could not have taken place without them.

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