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Mayor refuses to answer over 200 questions from residents and councillors

-       Rahman has only answered 4 public questions since he was elected

The pressure on the current Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, over the lack of transparency in his administration is building after it was revealed that since being elected in 2010 he has refused to answer more over 200 questions from members of the public and fellow councillors during Council meetings.

Statistics revealed at the recent Council meeting showed that the Mayor has only ever answered four of the eighty six questions from members of the public at Council meetings. Rahman has also refused to answer 138 questions from the councillors who were elected to hold him to account, and has not answered a single question since April 2011 when legal officers ruled that it would be a breach of his human rights to force the mayor to answer.

Labour have labelled the revelation ‘an utter disgrace’ accusing Rahman of ‘total contempt for the democratic process’.

Separately, the Chair of the Council’s cross party Overview and Scrutiny Committee revealed that of the 50 meetings they have held since Rahman came to power, the mayor has only attended five. The Committee said this had dramatically hampered their ability to scrutinise the mayor’s decisions and ensure the best outcomes for local residents.

Councillors gave the Mayor the opportunity at the Council meeting to explain his silence but, unsurprisingly, he declined to speak.

Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Sirajul Islam, said:

“The mayor’s total contempt for the democratic process is an utter disgrace. Lutfur Rahman has consistently refused to allow any form of scrutiny or transparency.

“It’s a tragedy that a borough which produced historic politicians like George Lansbury, is now run by a mayor who isn’t willing or able to answer simple questions.”

Labour’s Candidate for Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, said:

“It is bizarre. Lots of politicians will never shut up! I don't think anyone imagined there would ever be one who would never speak, particularly when it's the most powerful politician in the borough.

“Surely the right to remain silent applies to criminal suspects not public representatives? Maybe he doesn't know what he thinks but sadly I suspect we will never know.

“If I win in May I promise to speak. And answer questions.”

Lutfur Rahman’s contempt for democracy revealed

Mayor refuses to answer over 200 questions from residents and councillors -       Rahman has only answered 4 public questions since he was elected The pressure on the current Mayor of...

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- Since bulk waste charges started, collections have reduced by a third 
- Residents report 25,000 bins have gone uncollected
- Biggs announces plans to scrap the current Mayor's bulk waste charges
- Pledges to review recycling in high rise buildings and improve bin collection

John Biggs has pledged to clean up Tower Hamlets by scrapping the current Mayor's bulk waste charge program that has reduced bulk waste collections by a third leading to mattresses and large items littering the borough. 

In addition Biggs and Labour are proposing to review recycling in high rise buildings to increase the amount of waste that can be recycled and ensuring that rubbish is collected. 

While the current Mayor is embroiled in an ever growing number of investigations, residents are increasingly concerned that the bread and butter issues that should be the basic function of any council are not being carried out. A policy vacuum from the Mayor means he has been silent on the issues that matter most to people in the borough. 

Since Lutfur Rahman implemented his system of charging residents for bulk waste collections in 2012 the number of bulk waste collections have reduced from 14,965 to 6,909. In addition, frustrated residents have reported almost 25,000 uncollected rubbish and recycling bins since the current mayor Lutfur Rahman came to power.

If elected in May, John Biggs and Labour pledge to: 
  • Scrap the Mayor's current bulk waste charges 
  • Improve rubbish collection numbers and ensure collections do not result in additional rubbish on our streets
  • Improve recycling schemes for high rise buildings to increase the amount of household waste that can be recycled
John Biggs, Labour's Candidate for Mayor said: 

"While the current Mayor is bogged down in questions about his behaviour and honesty the fact is that many of our services are just not good enough. As mayor I will roll my sleeves up and focus on what's important for local people and unlike the current mayor I will publish my diary so people can see that I am putting the hours in on what matters." 

Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Sirajul Islam, said:

"Tower Hamlets needs clean politics and clean streets. With the current Mayor and his friends, it has neither. Tower Hamlets can do better than uncollected bins, mattresses piling high and an administration that cares more about cleaning up its own reputation than the roads we live on. John Biggs and Labour will clean up the way decisions are made in the Council and focus on what people really care about." 

As Lutfur Rahman faces a series of investigations, John Biggs focuses on what matters to residents: cleaning up our streets‏

- Since bulk waste charges started, collections have reduced by a third - Residents report 25,000 bins have gone uncollected- Biggs announces plans to scrap the current Mayor's bulk waste charges-...

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Labour councillors have strongly rebutted a press statement from the embattled Mayor of Tower Hamlets. Lutfur Rahman, after he bizarrely claimed that Labour had not raised any concerns about his grant allocations.

Rahman’s press release accused Labour of “failing to raise concerns on grant payments for the last three years and waiting until weeks before elections to cry foul play” despite numerous scrutiny sessions, public statements and requests to the District Auditor raising concerns over recent years.

Labour have labelled the mayor’s attempt to mislead voters as ‘feeble’ after he suggested that the Audit Committee had endorsed his spending. They argue that for the mayor to say the Audit Committee should have held the entire council's £1bn accounts to ransom over concerns that were being taken up elsewhere is reckless and suggest he and the finance lead don't understand the role of the committee.

Furthermore, back in 2012 when the majority of grants were announced by Lutfur Rahman, Labour ran a high profile campaign against his cuts to many of the borough’s well used welfare and legal advice centres. During that campaign the councillors also raised concerns that “the proposals were presented and agreed at Cabinet without any Equalities Impact Assessment.” They also had “concerns about the high funding levels for new, untested organisations with no track record of delivering for the community.”

Labour’s Finance spokesperson, Cllr Carlo Gibbs, said:

"This is Lutfur Rahman’s most feeble and baseless attack yet and is evidence of him desperately trying to blame others for his own failings.

“Labour Councillors have been on record raising concerns about his misuse of public funds through grants, the sale of buildings and the use of council resources for his own promotion for years now. At the time he said we were scaremongering and now he says we didn't raise it at all. It's dishonest to try and have it both ways."

Labour’s Candidate for Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, said:

“We have been raising concerns for years. Instead of throwing mud around Lutfur Rahman should be explaining exactly why he made these decisions. We did our job - did he do his?”

Lutfur Rahman’s audit allegations are baseless and wrong

Labour councillors have strongly rebutted a press statement from the embattled Mayor of Tower Hamlets. Lutfur Rahman, after he bizarrely claimed that Labour had not raised any concerns about his...

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