Legal action threatened over Banglatown ward scrappage
20:33 19 November 2012
Plans to remove the electoral ward of Banglatown from Tower Hamlets have been slammed as “an attack on Bangladeshis” by Mayor Lutfur Rahman, who has threatened legal action to block them.
The Boundary Commission unveiled its draft proposals for a reduction in the number of councillors sitting in the Town Hall last week, adopting recommendations from Tower Hamlets council’s Conservative group to remove “Banglatown” from the title of the Spitalfields and Banglatown ward.
The proposals have been met with fierce opposition, from councillors from the independent mayor’s cabinet and Tower Hamlets Laboru group.
Ward councillor for Spitalfields and Banglatown Gulam Robbani said: “Generations of the Bangladeshi community have historically settled and started businesses in the Brick Lane and Banglatown area.
“This Tory proposal is a smack in the face for thousands of Bangladeshis and non-Bangladeshis who have struggled and sacrificed to have Banglatown recognised in the map of Tower Hamlets.”
Mayor Rahman added that the council would consider a legal challenge to ensure the name is retained.
“Let me be absolutely clear; this decision to adopt a Conservative proposal is a disgrace”, he said.
“This is an attack on Bangladeshis, not only in this country but across the world, and I will do everything I can to retain the name Banglatown.”
Labour has also urged the Commission to drop the plans, insisting the name is an important symbol for the East End’s Bangladeshi community.
However, Conservative group leader cllr Peter Golds accused Mayor Rahman of “playing the race card”, and said that the Bangladeshi community is spread across the borough.
He added: “There will always be Banglatown on a map, but why should it be included in a local government ward name?
“There is no government ward in country that specifies a community. This is an abolsutely typical attempt to paint opponents as racist.”