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?”