Tower Hamlets budget plans unveiled to tackle street crime and unemployment

PUBLISHED: 12:12 15 January 2018 | UPDATED: 12:48 16 January 2018

Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs. Picture: Mike Brooke

Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

Mayor John Biggs has put forward his budget proposals for Tower Hamlets Council for the next three years focussing on tackling street crime, anti-social behaviour and creating more jobs.

Tower Hamlets Council plans extra £1.4 million to tackle street crime. Picture: Mike Brooke Tower Hamlets Council plans extra £1.4 million to tackle street crime. Picture: Mike Brooke

The proposals were agreed at a cabinet meeting and now go to a full council meeting next month.

They include a £1.4 million top-up to deal with street crime on top of the £3.3m previously announced to pay for 39 police officers.

The money is earmarked for more neighbourhood teams to increase visibility of streets patrols following a recent rise in acid attacks—in the face of £58m government public spending cuts which have hit the borough over three years.

“The government has cut our budget year after year, which means making tough choices,” the mayor said.

Mayor John Biggs with cabinet member David Edgar on council spending plans. Picture: Mike Brooke Mayor John Biggs with cabinet member David Edgar on council spending plans. Picture: Mike Brooke

“But we’re keeping all libraries, leisure centres and children’s centres open, unlike other local authorities, and have protected free school meals and council tax benefit for the poorest.”

Extra money for employment is included in the Budget, such as £1.8m for the Young WorkPath and other employment schemes. The programme is to have a shop front service at Shadwell’s Watney Market.

Free school meals are being protected in the budget proposals.

The town hall has switched its approach to budget setting to a rolling three-year plan instead of the short-term one-year proposals which had previously led to failures and services with “hollowed-out funding”.

Cllr David Edgar, cabinet member for resources, said: “Our three year budgets mean we can make investments to deal with anti-social behaviour and to improve employment. The previous administration used short-term stopgaps rather than plan for the future.”

This is the second year of a three year budget with an emphasis on tackling poverty through the town hall’s special anti-poverty fund. A large number of low-income families are paying no Council Tax under the special funding, the council points out.

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