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Archive for November, 2013

I have been appalled to learn of the quite shocking and potentially criminal actions that have directly followed the public intervention of one of our borough’s prominent and respected residents, former Lib Dem councillor, Nigel McCollum, in the full council meeting in the Town Hall on Wednesday night.

I understand the police have launched an immediate investigation in to who is behind the posting of deeply offensive leaflets, picturing Nigel McCollum, and claiming that he is a ‘paedophile’. These posters have been posted in and around public areas near to where Nigel lives.

Fortunately, Nigel was alerted by concerned neighbours and friends upon waking on Thursday morning.

He had raised what he believes to have been the scandalous role of some local Labour councillors in wasting £1.6 million on developments in the Roman Road the previous evening at a meeting of the full council.

Both Lib Dem leader, Councillor Stephanie Eaton and I are urging the police to mount a full and thorough investigation. Both Stephanie and I wish to condemn what Nigel and ourselves believe to be a serious homophobic attack, and one that may well be politically charged. I have spoken to Nigel and offered him both our sympathy and our full support.

There can be no place for homophobia and hate in Tower Hamlets. Those who attempt to promulgate it must know that there will be consequences to their actions.

 

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The figures caused dismay in Tower Hamlets, an area trying to tackle its  high crime rate. How could the borough see a nine per cent increase in offences when across London there had been a drop of two per cent? Councillors had invested £1.8 million on extra police and put 40 Enforcement Officers on the streets. The answer brought relief and not a little annoyance. A computer error by the Met had produced a spike in crime in a three-year period six times greater than it really was.
 

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Press Release from the Office of the Mayor of Tower Hamlets 

For immediate release – 25 November 2013

Police admit borough crime figures were ‘incorrect’

Mayor Lutfur Rahman demands public apology from John Biggs AM for making ‘misleading crime claims’

Following an admission by the Metropolitan Police that they had got their crime figures for Tower Hamlets ‘wrong’ for the past three years, it has since emerged that the mistake only emerged after research was conducted into the figures by the Mayor’s Office.

The apparent spike in crime in Tower Hamlets occurred after the Metropolitan Police admitted that they had got their figures the ‘wrong way around’. This error was immediately challenged by Mayor Lutfur Rahman, but only after John Biggs AM and the Labour Party had trumpeted the wrong figures, with great fanfare, to the local media. Particularly embarrassing for John Biggs was the revelation that crime has fallen further in Tower Hamlets than Hackney and Newham.  

Mayor Lutfur Rahman said:

‘Had John Biggs and the Labour Party done some elementary research he would have soon discovered – as we did – that crime is falling in our borough, not rising. Instead of trying to score cheap political points and frightening local residents into the bargain, John Biggs could have tried to establish the truth. The Metropolitan Police have acknowledged that they made an honest mistake – but it is high time that John Biggs now apologises for trying to exploit the situation for his own political ends and getting it so spectacularly wrong.’

 Ends

 Notes to Editors:

 1. East London Advertiser articles on Tower Hamlets crime figures here and here.

 For information about this press release contact  Numan Hussain , Political Advisor to the Mayor , on 07508 352 023 or email numan.hussain@towerhamlets.gov.uk

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UNICEF UK launched its Child Rights Partners programme in Parliament on Wednesday 14th November, which aims to put child rights at the heart of public services in the United Kingdom. The launch took place with speakers from UNICEF and the UK local authority partners of UNICEF, including Tower Hamlets. I was proud to be representing our borough, and equally proud that we are the only London borough to be partnering with UNICEF in this ground breaking project.

The Executive Director of UNICEF UK, David Bull, praised Tower Hamlets ‘for the great work you are already doing’. We are one of six authorities in the UK that the United Nations body will be partnering with, and I was able to share many of the projects we are already pursuing to put children at the heart of our policy making. These include extending free school meals provision, the restoration of the Education Maintenance Allowance, and much else besides. Our schools and our school children continue to perform very well, a fact that was also remarked upon by many of those gathered together.

This is in many ways, a great honour for us in Tower Hamlets. And of course it is important to recognise that not only do we have one of the youngest populations in the country – the average age in the borough is 28 years, but sadly we still have some of the highest incidences of child poverty and overcrowding.

But it was great to meet representatives from the other authorities that will be partnering with UNICEF, including Glasgow, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Derry, Leeds and Port Talbot. It was also good to see that local MPs representing those same areas were present and supportive of their local authorities. Not so our two MPs, Rushanara Ali – a former Shadow Cabinet Member for Overseas Development and Jim Fitzpatrick, who did not manage to make an appearance despite being invited and despite the event taking place in Parliament. It was their loss.

Photo: At the launch with David Bull, Executive Director of UNICEF UK.

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I wholeheartedly support the TUC’s day of action against black-listing. Nationwide the TUC is organising a whole series of events designed to shine a light on this disgraceful practice – one that has deprived thousands of people of their ability and right to make a living. It is outrageous that at least 2,700 people still do not know that they have been, or are, on such lists held by employers, and must submit a Freedom of Information request to find out. Nor can it be right that if they are successful in doing so and are finally awarded some compensation, there are likely to be a whole series of ‘gagging clauses’ designed to ensure their continuing silence.

Neither am I fooled by Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg’s attempt to link ‘blacklisting’ with the judicial inquiry launched by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, at so-called intimidation of irresponsible employers by trade unions such as Unite. Permanently ruining someone’s employment prospects cannot be linked with trades unionists protesting against powerful industry bosses who threaten Victorian style lock-outs.

Tower Hamlets was the first local authority to pledge not to award contracts to any company found guilty of black listing.  In so doing, we earned the praise of trade union leaders, such as Paul Kenny, General Secretary of the GMB, Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite, and Steve Murphy, General Secretary of the construction workers union, UCATT.    So this TUC initiative deserves our wholehearted support.

If you would like to take part in the events being organised or would simply like to know more, please visit this site.

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On Sunday 17th November, I spent a delightful afternoon attending Mass at the Lady Assumption Church in Bethnal Green. While faith communities are an important part of any borough, the fact that Tower Hamlets is home to a great number of diverse, prominent religious groups means the role they play here is particularly significant. It is always fascinating to see different religious group at work.

After the Mass, I gave a short speech to the forty or so residents who had attended about my priorities as Mayor. We had a lively Q&A session where residents expressed their concerns, including worries about the impact of government welfare reform and lack of affordable housing. I was really happy to hear how contented many residents were with the funds I have provided for the restoration of faith buildings.

I would like to sincerely thank both Father Tom and Father Justin and the residents who attended.

Photo: With Father Tom O’Brien

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After five cyclists have been killed on London’s roads over the past eight days, three in our borough, it is simply not good enough of Boris Johnson’s Cycling Commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, to say;  ‘You have to cycle safely at all times. We can only help you so far. We can’t take responsibility for everyone’s safety.’

Boris Johnson has repeatedly ignored demands to make Bow roundabout safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

Today I am asking to meet Mayor  Johnson and demand he act immediately to make the Bow roundabout safer and undertake an urgent review of the Cycle Superhighway in Tower Hamlets.

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