Council refuses to give details of how many staff received overtime payments
Lutfur Rahman’s expansive mayoral office came in for more criticism this week when Freedom of Information requests revealed he had spent over £80,000 on overtime payments over the last three years.
In an oddly evasive response, the Council refused to say how many staff the overtime budget was spent between despite multiple requests. The refusal has raised concerns that the budget could have been used to artificially inflate the wages of Rahman’s army of consultants and mayoral advisors.
The £80k overtime budget is in addition to Rahman spending almost £300,000 a year on politically appointed consultants and advisors on top of his standard mayoral office staff. In total Rahman’s office costs stand at over £700,000 before things like overtime are added.
Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Sirajul Islam, said:
“This looks like yet another £80,000 of tax payer money wasted by Lutfur Rahman on political consultants and advisors. People want their money to be spent on the things which really matter to them, not an army of cronies.
“There’s nothing wrong with overtime where it’s necessary but this is a massive amount of money and very little transparency about how and why it is being used. It’s pretty odd that the council refuses to say how many staff this pot of money was split between. This kind of obstructiveness isn’t new but you do wonder why they don’t answer if there is nothing to hide.”
Labour’s candidate for Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, said:
“If the mayor’s office needs overtime this should be totally transparent and accounted for. This is both because its public money but additionally because an executive mayor is a very powerful figure and those close to them need to be doubly transparent to avoid any suspicion of the abuse of power.”