Mayor caught in a lie after falsely claiming to have already funded the Labour project
- Rahman raids council’s emergency reserves after refusing to cut mayoral car and consultants
In an embarrassing climb down the Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman finally accepted Labour’s proposals to introduce free school meals for all primary school pupils. The decision came late last Friday afternoon after Rahman was caught out for falsely claiming to have already funded the policy.
Despite fully funded plans for free school meals being put forward by the Labour Party, Rahman has rejected the proposed cuts to his tax payer funded mayoral car and political consultants. Instead Rahman will raid the Council’s emergency reserves, cutting the amount available for frontline services in the coming years. Labour labelled the refusal to cut his mayoral car and consultants “a deeply cynical waste of taxpayer money” and accused Rahman of putting services at risk to fund his luxury lifestyle. By contrast Biggs has pledged to immediately scrap the expensive mayoral car and consultants if elected.
Only a week earlier a spokesperson for Rahman had claimed “the mayor has fully budgeted for this project and the funding has been allocated.” Rahman’s decision late on Friday came after he was found to have tried to mislead local people after council officers confirmed that not a penny had been allocated to the project. Labour have pledged to fund Free School Meals on an ongoing basis as opposed to Lutfur Rahman’s one year election stunt.
Labour’s finance spokesperson, Cllr Carlo Gibbs, said:
“Raiding the Council’s emergency reserves just to save his car and consultants is a deeply cynical waste of taxpayer money.
“John Biggs first proposed our detailed plans for free school meals back in February. Until Friday there still wasn’t a penny of funding despite Rahman falsely claiming he had acted.
"It's not enough to just fund it for one year by raiding the emergency reserves just before an election, it needs to be funded in a sustainable way every year and only Labour and John Biggs can be trusted to deliver that. After all Rahman’s smoke and mirrors it remains clear that the only way to be sure the free school meals plan will go ahead is by voting for John Biggs in May."
Labour’s candidate for mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, said:
“Leadership is about hard choices but also priorities. What this tells us is that Lutfur Rahman would rather spend taxpayer money on his own comfort than on things which benefit residents. He's clearly got his priorities all wrong.
"This would be a scandal at any time but when the council faces serious budget challenges its totally reckless. The strain this will put on budgets in future years will mean even greater pressure on the council staff working hard to protect frontline services.
“It is hard to see how anyone who isn't just in it for themselves could make such a selfish and wasteful decision."