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Archive for November, 2012

Statement on the crisis in Gaza

Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman condemns Gaza violence, asks William
Hague to call for immediate ceasefire.

“The Foreign Secretary must call for an immediate ceasefire before the
prospect of a ground offensive becomes a reality and more innocent
civilians suffer. The only possible consequence of the current
offensive in Gaza will be to stoke the flames of hatred and set back
the prospects for a lasting peace based on compliance with UN
resolutions and a return to 1967 borders.”

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There has been huge domestic and international interest in our decision to sell a much loved Henry Moore sculpture, ‘Old Flo’, that our borough bought many years ago – it wasn’t donated to us as press reports have erroneously claimed. We are not the first authority to explore raising much needed revenue at a time of austerity from selling works of art. Last year Bolton Council put up 30 five works of art to be sold, including works by Millais, Picasso and Hutchison. Back in 2006, Bury Council raised £1.4 million by selling LS Lowry’s A Riverbank. If only there was as much national media interest in the fact that we are being forced to make £100million cuts by 2015, as there has been over the proposed sale of this sculpture to mitigate the effect of some of those cuts.

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It is with considerable regret that I make this decision but I have a duty to ensure residents do not suffer the brunt of the horrendous cuts being imposed on us. We are faced with a stark choice in these times of recession. Do we keep this valuable sculpture in Yorkshire or do we try to sell this globally important artwork in order to release much needed funds to invest in local heritage projects we can sustain, affordable housing, improving opportunities and prospects for our young people and keeping our community safe?

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Tower Hamlets Fairness Commission

Last night I attended the very successful launch of the Tower Hamlets Fairness Commission. The Commission will be chaired by Giles Fraser. You can read his hopes for the Commission here and more general information about the Commission here. Below is my speech to last night’s event.

Thank you for coming tonight to the launch of the Tower Hamlets Fairness Commission. A special thank you to our commissioners and to our chair, Giles. I am delighted we have brought together such a wide range of individuals, all of whom have enormous expertise. I have high expectations for this commission and rightly so. This feels like a crucial moment in the progress towards a fairer society. There has been no better moment to reassess our responsibilities and contributions to each other, both as individuals and organisations. I believe the work of the Commission will play a critical role in shaping the future of Tower Hamlets – a future which must now be shaped without many of the certainties we grew up with.

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