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Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs has delivered his first ‘State of the Borough’ speech, as part of Tower Hamlets Council’s Annual General Meeting.

In the speech, part of a new annual ‘State of the Borough’ debate,  the Mayor described how he has sought to rebuild the reputation of Tower Hamlets, after inheriting a ‘council in chaos’ from his disgraced predecessor. He highlighted his success in becoming a more open and approachable Mayor, and in saving the council over £330,000 by scrapping his chauffeured car and highly paid advisors, and reducing the size of the Mayor’s office.

His first annual Budget saw increased investment in street cleaning and anti-social behaviour, he is announcing detailed plans to build 1000 council homes, and a new job brokering scheme will help residents get back into work. These investments are yielding results, with the Annual Residents Survey highlighting that 70% describe the Council’s street cleansing as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’, an improvement of 12% on the previous year. ‘Good’ or ‘excellent’ ratings for policing have also increased 10%, showing that the Mayor’s investment in tackling ASB is working.

The Mayor also used the speech to set out his vision for Tower Hamlets as a more confident and outward facing borough, with excellent services run by a council that wants to build a place where residents ‘believe they can achieve great things’. The Mayor’s efforts to rebuild the Council are shown in the Residents Survey, which shows a 17% increase in the number of residents who feel the council ‘is doing a better job now than one year ago.’

The full speech can be read at: http://www.towerhamletslabour.org.uk/mayor_john_biggs_gives_first_state_of_the_borough_address

The Annual Meeting also saw Councillor Khales Uddin Ahmed elected Speaker for the new municipal year, with Councillor Sabina Akhtar elected as Deputy Speaker. Council also approved the chairs and membership of committees for 2016/17, including an updated committee structure, and confirmed the Cabinet and Mayoral advisers, and agreed a new schedule of members’ allowances that better reflects the workloads and responsibilities of members from all parties. The new scheme maintains the council’s scheme below the level of other London boroughs, within guidelines issued by the London Councils Independent Remuneration Panel.

Mayor John Biggs said: “I am pleased to be able to demonstrate the progress we are making in moving Tower Hamlets forward, with strong and positive political leadership and a senior officer team now in place. The State of the Borough debate gives councillors of all parties the chance to reflect on the direction the council is taking, and I welcomed the chance to set out my vision for our borough. I am proud to have achieved much in my first year as Mayor, but there is still so much to do. We need to build on our response to the housing crisis, we need to strengthen our work tackling ASB and we must continue to support our young people. We face these challenges, but the East End is a special place, where people come from all over the world to achieve their dreams, and our first responsibility is to support them.”

“I’m also pleased that Council has adopted the changes to the committee structure, which will now have a much stronger scrutiny capability to assess and examine executive decisions.”

Councillor Khales Ahmed, Speaker of the Council, said: “The Speaker of the Council serves as the first citizen of the borough and I’m very proud to serve the borough in my new role.  Tower Hamlets is a wonderful place to live and work and I am looking forward to representing the borough and its communities.”

Mayor Sets Out Progress In ‘State of the Borough’ Speech

Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs has delivered his first ‘State of the Borough’ speech, as part of Tower Hamlets Council’s Annual General Meeting. In the speech, part of a new...

Mayor John Biggs today held a meeting with representatives of the East London Mosque, the Metropolitan Police, and Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets to discuss the recent provocations from Britain First and the legal options available to confront and block such incidents.

Following recent provocative actions of Britain First in Tower Hamlets, Mayor Biggs has led the response of the council, police, and other community safety partners, working with council officers to support the Mosque and ensure local people are protected. The Mayor publicly demanded stronger police action to tackle racist provocations, and the most recent appearance of Britain First saw two members being arrested.

In recognition of the widespread community demand for a ban, Tower Hamlets Council and the Metropolitan Police are considering the legal powers available to seek to block future incidents, including the use of a Community Protection Notice, a new measure introduced in the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

Mayor John Biggs said: ‘The hatred and division of Britain First has no place in Tower Hamlets. Today I met with representatives from East London Mosque, the Metropolitan Police and senior council officers to discuss my call for further action to prevent violence coming to our streets. We have agreed to pursue legal channels to try to prevent provocative demonstrations by Britain First and other groups.

“We are pursuing a Community Protection Notice, which would block behaviour that has a detrimental effect on quality of life. This may take some time to implement and we are working together with police and other agencies to expedite it. 

“I stand in solidarity with all residents of Tower Hamlets, and particularly our Muslim community, who feel threatened by the provocative actions of Britain First. We must continue to send the strong message that Britain First is not welcome in any corner of our Borough.”

Mayor Biggs Pursues Legal Options Against Britain First – 12th April 2016

Mayor John Biggs today held a meeting with representatives of the East London Mosque, the Metropolitan Police, and Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets to discuss the recent provocations from Britain...

Mayor Of Tower Hamlets John Biggs has urged the community to stay united to organise this year’s Mela.

He also wants to hear ideas and contributions from all parts of the community about the cultural programme and on how to make the Mela more family friendly.

Earlier he confirmed that the Boishakhi Mela would be operated by the council, and would be held on 31st July at Weavers Fields open Space in Bethnal Green. This delay was because the Trust responsible for operating the Mela at short notice advised it would not be able to go ahead in May, because of conditions set by the Commissioners sent into Tower Hamlets by the Government under the previous Mayor, and the Holy month of Ramadan means it must now take place after Ramadan in July.

Mayor Biggs said: ‘The Council is looking forward to holding a successful Mela in July at Weavers Field. The Mela is a traditional Bengali cultural event but also a community event for all the family, so I want the community to be involved from the start. In particular I’d like to hear ideas about how to make it a family friendly event, and about the sort of cultural activities that should be included. Please send me your thoughts about Mela directly to my personal e-mail – mayor@towerhamlets.gov.uk . You can write to me in English or Bengali.’

Mayor Biggs also said: ‘I am sorry that Boishakhi Mela Community Trust were unable to meet the requirements of the Commissioners in relations to outstanding audit and monitoring requirements. This has given the council no option but to terminate their contact. But I would like to thank the Trust and its chair Mr Siraj Haque for the work they have done in making Mela a success over the years. The council is inviting Mr Haque to remain involved in the planning of the event in a senior advisory capacity. A new contract to operate the Mela in 2017 and beyond will now go out to tender, and we look forward to working with the community to deliver the Boishakhi Mela in the future.’

Mayor Biggs asks community for their ideas for the Boishakhi Mela

Mayor Of Tower Hamlets John Biggs has urged the community to stay united to organise this year’s Mela. He also wants to hear ideas and contributions from all parts of...

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