Lutfur Rahman’s stated commitment to openness and transparency suffered a setback on Wednesday night after the Mayor once again refused to answer a single question from councillors or members of the public.
Issues he was asked about varied from the future of NHS services in the borough, to homophobic abuse and cycle safety.
In keeping with his previous style, Rahman stayed silent leaving all answers, including about the Mayor’s personal opinions, to his Cabinet members.
Labour Leader, Cllr Rachael Saunders also revealed that Rahman had failed to respond to multiple letters and emails proposing meetings to discuss the Council meeting and the wider challenges facing the Council. She stressed that this was particularly important given the Mayor’s admission at Cabinet last week that he will need to make almost £70m of cuts to Council budgets over the next two years.
Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Rachael Saunders, said:
“Wednesday’s Council meeting saw a disappointing return to form from Lutfur Rahman after much was said about him adopting a new and more open style of leadership. He continued to refuse to answer any questions from the public or councillors.
“He has ignored repeated requests from me since the election for us to meet and discuss the challenges facing he borough. I am happy to co-operate with other political groups to try and make sure council business runs smoothly. More importantly, with residents increasingly concerned about the daunting prospect of the cuts the Conservative led government is imposing on council budgets it is important that politicians of all sides pull together.
“In standing for election to be the Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman took responsibility for protecting our services from the cuts we all knew were coming. The Labour Group will do all we can to support any attempt to maintain vital services the council delivers.
“With resources under strain transparency in decision making is vital. With the allocation of grants in his last term, a perceived lack of transparency in allocations fuelled a strong sense of unfairness locally. The stakes are now much higher, and Lutfur Rahman has a responsibility to be open about how he intends to tackle upcoming challenges.
“The recent election result tells us that the people of the borough want their politicians to cooperate. The Labour Group is ready to have that conversation.”