Last week, Tower Hamlets Council completed its annual budget process.
A proposal by my group caused some controversy, at least amongst the Tower Hamlets First contingent. This was to remove the Rahman administration’s proposal of £725,000 for ‘mother tongue teaching’ and invest this in English as a spoken language. We cannot hide from the fact that there are many of our residents who have limited English – the language of the country where they live. Providing support for teaching English as a spoken language will do much to enhance community cohesion. This is a policy adopted by local authorities of different political persuasions across the country.
Sadly, Tower Hamlets First’s capacity to look inward actually reduces community cohesion.
The mayor was even more concerned at the proposal to save £350,000 by reducing the number of his political advisors. That he exercises all available power should leave his cabinet as advisors (they cannot make decisions) but, it would seem, even more advisors are required, to be paid for by the taxpayer.
However, Lutfur Rahman does have more than a third of councillors and so can proceed with his proposed budget.
Unfortunately, he once again declined to attend any council scrutiny process, delegating one of his powerless cabinet members to respond to questions.
It is doubtful if any of the government lawyers who drafted the original legislation regarding Executive Mayors could have imagined that one would be able to cite “human rights”, to avoid democratic accountability.
First published on the East London Advertiser website on Wednesday 11 March 2015