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Mayor Lutfur Rahman loses Tower Hamlets budget vote for £1.8m ‘propaganda’ cash

PUBLISHED: 07:42 08 March 2013 | UPDATED: 01:20 09 March 2013

Lutfur Rahman

Lutfur Rahman

Archant

Mayor Lutfur Rahman has been defeated over his controversial Tower Hamlets council budget which faces a £55 million ‘black hole’ after being outvoted last night by jubilant Labour and Tory opposition councillors.

The independent mayor in London’s East End is now forced to axe £1.2 million which funds his council-funded weekly “Pravda propaganda” newspaper and to cut £296,000 to expand his controversial team of personal advisors.

The combined opposition outvoted his independent administration by 34 votes to 17—which means he now has to legally adopt an amended £297m budget that he had rejected last week.

Mayor Rahman had turned down Labour opposition budget amendments to delete funding to keep East End Life distributed free to 90,000 homes each week—in the face of changing legislation being brought in by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

Opponents accuse him of using it for “Pravda-style propaganda” week after week in the run-up to next year’s election for mayor.

The second blow is having to scrap £296,000 funding to expand the Mayor’s team of personal advisors which opponents claimed brought divisive extremism into East End politics.

The £1.8m total saved must now be ring-fenced to help reduce the council’s financial ‘black hole’ that will appear by 2015, bringing an end to a controversial era of the mayor’s executive budgeting for the authority that spends £1.2 billion a year in council tax and government funding.

The mayor is also forced to accept that any spending above £200,000 outside the budget must be agreed by the full council—where his independent administration is up against the majority Labour Opposition and the Conservative group.

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