Ware’s Allegations Just don’t add Up
BBC heavyweight reduced to fiddling percentages as Panorama “expose” falls flat
Mayor Lutfur Rahman today dismissed allegations by John Ware on BBC’s Panorama that he was favouring the Bangladeshi community in Tower Hamlets at the expense of others. The Mayor also refuted accusations that the Council’s grants process was not sufficiently robust.
The council does not profile organisations by race or ethnicity because Third Sector organisations benefit the whole community. Even using Ware’s definition of “Bengali and Somali “organisations, figures held by the council show that these communities, which together make up 33 per cent of the borough’s population received £1.6m in grants or around 16 per cent of the total pot of £9.7m.
Mayor Rahman said: “There is nothing untoward in the way we give out grants. Over 430 recommendations were made and I only made 32 changes; benefitting groups as diverse as Vietnamese refugees and the Royal Society for the Blind.”
The Mainstream Grants Programme 2013-2015 went to four cabinet meetings; three Corporate Third Sector Grants Programme Boards and two Overview and Scrutiny Meetings before the final executive decision by the Mayor. It was only during the last stage of the process that the Mayor made any direct alterations.
Mayor Rahman said: “Without any actual evidence to back up his claims, Ware has been reduced to fiddling statistics and relying on unsupported assertions from opposition Councillors to justify the amount of license fee payer’s money spent on this programme. I’m proud to have delivered for all the residents of Tower Hamlets and I’ll be running on my record in May’s elections, not on smears.”
The changes made by the mayor included:
• Change from £0 to £15,000 funding to the Community of Refugees from Vietnam
• Change from £0 to £7,500 funding to the Tower Hamlets Chinese School
• Change from £0 to £20,000 funding to The Royal London Society of the Blind
• Change from £15,000 to £36,000 funding to City Gateway (Youth and Employment Project)
• Change from £0 to £40,000 funding to Old Ford Housing
The Mayor’s office has previously published the following statement: “Out of a total of £27m given out to the community, only £2.3m was given to the Bangladeshi community.” This figure is accurate from 2008-15 and covers Rahman’s time both as Mayor and Leader of the Council. The figures above provide a direct like-for-like comparison with the period 2012-15 used by Panorama.