Mayor proposes £2.5m raid on Council’s emergency reserves despite Labour’s
fully funded and sustainable proposal
The current Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, was this week forced to announce that after dismissing Labour’s fully funded proposal to introduce free school meals for all primary school children in the borough, he has no idea of how to fund it himself.
In an embarrassing u-turn, less than two weeks after vetoing Labour’s proposals Rahman has announced he wants to adopt Free School Meals but would be forced to fund it from the Council’s emergency reserves as he couldn’t find the money.
Rahman’s ‘solution’ would mean cutting more than £2.5m worth of frontline services in the coming years, despite an already eye-watering £80m budget gap.
Labour have branded Rahman’s approach as “weak and dishonest” accusing him of “saddling the council with another £2.5m of debt” by not accepting their fully funded proposals as part of the Budget process.
Rahman’s proposal to raid the Council’s reserve fund will now go to the Council meeting on the 26th for a final decision.
Labour’s Finance Spokesperson, Cllr Carlo Gibbs, said:
“It’s very clear today that Lutfur Rahman has promised the world and has absolutely no idea how to deliver on it.
“Saddling the Council with another £2.5m of debt just to get himself out of a political hole is totally irresponsible. Debt means cuts to frontline services in years to come, if Rahman supported free school meals then why didn’t he just support Labour’s fully funded plans?
“We can see the truth more clearly now than ever. Lutfur Rahman is weak, dishonest and totally unfit to lead.”
Labour’s Candidate for Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, said:
"Free school meals for primary and special school students is a massively popular idea. And smart too. That's why we proposed it. He should admit he got it wrong and accept our proposal rather than trying to further bankrupt the borough by refusing to recognise he got his priorities wrong."