Mayor Sets Out Progress In ‘State of the Borough’ Speech

Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs has delivered his first ‘State of the Borough’ speech, as part of Tower Hamlets Council’s Annual General Meeting.

In the speech, part of a new annual ‘State of the Borough’ debate,  the Mayor described how he has sought to rebuild the reputation of Tower Hamlets, after inheriting a ‘council in chaos’ from his disgraced predecessor. He highlighted his success in becoming a more open and approachable Mayor, and in saving the council over £330,000 by scrapping his chauffeured car and highly paid advisors, and reducing the size of the Mayor’s office.

His first annual Budget saw increased investment in street cleaning and anti-social behaviour, he is announcing detailed plans to build 1000 council homes, and a new job brokering scheme will help residents get back into work. These investments are yielding results, with the Annual Residents Survey highlighting that 70% describe the Council’s street cleansing as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’, an improvement of 12% on the previous year. ‘Good’ or ‘excellent’ ratings for policing have also increased 10%, showing that the Mayor’s investment in tackling ASB is working.

The Mayor also used the speech to set out his vision for Tower Hamlets as a more confident and outward facing borough, with excellent services run by a council that wants to build a place where residents ‘believe they can achieve great things’. The Mayor’s efforts to rebuild the Council are shown in the Residents Survey, which shows a 17% increase in the number of residents who feel the council ‘is doing a better job now than one year ago.’

The full speech can be read at:

The Annual Meeting also saw Councillor Khales Uddin Ahmed elected Speaker for the new municipal year, with Councillor Sabina Akhtar elected as Deputy Speaker. Council also approved the chairs and membership of committees for 2016/17, including an updated committee structure, and confirmed the Cabinet and Mayoral advisers, and agreed a new schedule of members’ allowances that better reflects the workloads and responsibilities of members from all parties. The new scheme maintains the council’s scheme below the level of other London boroughs, within guidelines issued by the London Councils Independent Remuneration Panel.

Mayor John Biggs said: “I am pleased to be able to demonstrate the progress we are making in moving Tower Hamlets forward, with strong and positive political leadership and a senior officer team now in place. The State of the Borough debate gives councillors of all parties the chance to reflect on the direction the council is taking, and I welcomed the chance to set out my vision for our borough. I am proud to have achieved much in my first year as Mayor, but there is still so much to do. We need to build on our response to the housing crisis, we need to strengthen our work tackling ASB and we must continue to support our young people. We face these challenges, but the East End is a special place, where people come from all over the world to achieve their dreams, and our first responsibility is to support them.”

“I’m also pleased that Council has adopted the changes to the committee structure, which will now have a much stronger scrutiny capability to assess and examine executive decisions.”

Councillor Khales Ahmed, Speaker of the Council, said: “The Speaker of the Council serves as the first citizen of the borough and I’m very proud to serve the borough in my new role.  Tower Hamlets is a wonderful place to live and work and I am looking forward to representing the borough and its communities.”

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