December 12 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Cabinet members of Tower Hamlets cash-strapped administration have been slammed this week for splashing out £7,675 in cab fares in just six months instead of using public transport.
The 246 rides were “charged to council taxpayers” by Mayor Lutfur Rahman and his cabinet between 2011 and 2012, according to Freedom of Information data obtained yesterday by Tory Opposition councillors.
The Conservatives intend challenging the Mayor at tomorrow night’s council budget meeting—accusing him of “squandering public funds” when the authority faces £100 million spending cuts.
Tory Group Leader Peter Golds said: “Rahman’s administration misuses public money on an industrial scale.
“These trips were made when there was abundant public transport, yet these people attend meetings leaving a taxi meter ticking over.”
The mayor took 85 cabs in six months costing £2,789, he pointed out.
Cabinet members on the list were Oliur Rahman clocking up £1,841 for 67 cabs including 39 between Stratford Job Centre where he works and the Town Hall, Ohid Ahmed’s 39 trips costing £1,481, Rabina Khan’s 32 rides at £958, Rania Khan’s 16 trips totalling £408 and Abdul Asad’s five taxis at £97.
Worst month was March, 2011, say the Tories, when 15 journeys were made costing £1,116, and 10 trips to Channel S TV studios in Walthamstow, six miles outside the borough.
Cllr Oliur Rahman hit back saying: “I have to hold down a fulltime job, provide service to residents and only used taxis when absolutely necessary—I’m not here to waste public money.”
He has since bought a car and says he doesn’t ask for petrol money.
Requests for taxis for cabinet members have to be agreed by the Head of the Mayor’s Office, the Town Hall confirmed.
A spokesman said: “The Council will pay for a taxi if public transport is not available, or inappropriate such as late at night or impractical due to urgency to get from one engagement to another in time.”
The Tories, however, are to refer the taxi spending to the District Auditor and have raised it with the Secretary of State.