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Town Hall, unlike Parliament, has prayer breaks

PUBLISHED: 21:09 07 July 2008 | UPDATED: 13:25 05 October 2010

LONDON - DECEMBER 11:  Visitors talk with each other as they visit the Islamic Art And Cultural Exhibition Open Days in the East London mosque, December 11, 2004 in London, England. The East London Mosque Open Days which are organized by The Islam Awareness Project are aimed at creating better understanding of Islam and Muslims by displays and exhibitions and to help dispel misconceptions and negative stereotypes of Muslims and Islam specially in the Western World, Mizan Amin the project coordinator of Islam Awareness Project Said. (Photo by Abid Katib/Getty Images)

LONDON - DECEMBER 11: Visitors talk with each other as they visit the Islamic Art And Cultural Exhibition Open Days in the East London mosque, December 11, 2004 in London, England. The East London Mosque Open Days which are organized by The Islam Awareness Project are aimed at creating better understanding of Islam and Muslims by displays and exhibitions and to help dispel misconceptions and negative stereotypes of Muslims and Islam specially in the Western World, Mizan Amin the project coordinator of Islam Awareness Project Said. (Photo by Abid Katib/Getty Images)

2004 Getty Images

A LOT of people skit at councillor types. Quite rightly, many think these low level politicians are in it for themselves, their ego and a pathetic desire for an inflated community status. But there are some who genuinely care. Take events at the Town Hall on July 2. I left to go to the pub two hours into the meeting, when Mayor Abdus Salique called a 15-minute prayer break, a development which many are uncomfortable with since they are actually meant to be secular sessions. After all, Parliament doesn’t break for these things

Ted Jeory puts East End politicians in the dock

A LOT of people skit at councillor types. Quite rightly, many think these low level politicians are in it for themselves, their ego and a pathetic desire for an inflated community status.

But there are some who genuinely care.

Take events at the slightly disturbing council meeting at the Town Hall on July 2.

Because I left to go to the pub two hours into the meeting, when Mayor Abdus Salique called a 15-minute prayer break (a development with which many in the Town Hall are uncomfortable with since they are actually meant to be secular sessions: after all, Parliament doesn't break for these things), I didn't actually see what went on at the end.

But by all accounts, there was another stand up row between Labour's new housing chief Marc Francis on the one side and the borough's angry leaseholders and Tory Tim Archer on the other.

Due to the prayer break, all this happened towards 11pm, just after Labour councillors refused a Tory demand to extend the meeting by half-an-hour for a motion on leaseholder service charges.

The leaseholders, as you can imagine, were not impressed. In a second-rate bid to placate them, Cllr Francis offered to meet them in a private side room... without Tim Archer.

I know all this because at about midnight I received a phone call from one very distraught and very cheesed off councillor.

This member (I won't name him or her) was utterly disgusted at the way Labour refused to show any respect for the lobby of leaseholders who had not only traipsed to the never-never land of Mulberry Place, but also sat until late at night waiting their turn.

This is the gist of what this Bengali councillor said to me:

"You can be absolutely sure that if there'd been a group of Bengali elders waiting for a debate, they'd definitely have extended the meeting.

"For anyone else, they don't care.

"I really felt like crying about this tonight. I'm so ashamed."

Whether the councillor was right, we'll have to wait for the next time.

But based on the three years I've spent covering Tower Hamlets politics, my feeling is that a large group of half-wit Labourites have been consistently non-discriminatory in their attitudes to the public/

They don't give a toss about anyone.

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WE JUST AIN'T GOT DOUGH TO DO UP BANCROFT

GIVEN the overwhelming response in our campaign keep old Mile End Vestry Hall in Bancroft Road a publicly-owned building and as the revered centre for the East End History Library and Archives, you'd think councillors would be more minded to block the proposed sale when they meet at cabinet on July 30. But I doubt it.

In conversations with me, they insist on using the old canard about money.

"You see, Ted," they say in their 'Arthur Daley' way, "we just haven't got the capital budget to look after the old building and the ceiling in the way it deserves."

This'll be the same capital budget from which they managed to find tens of millions of pounds to refurbish plush council offices in Docklands.

It's the same magic pot that conjured up £28 million more for the hated Idea Stores whose filthy windows, I understand, cost thousands of pounds apiece to replace.

This is the same attitude that led to the disgraceful neglect of our council housing stock.

The council's new regime has here a real chance to show it genuinely cares for our heritage. To use their 'orrible corporate speak, they should make Bancroft a 'champion of history and learning' for Tower Hamlets.

In the plainer language of the East End, quite simply tell Queen Mary College to 'eff orff'.

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CLEANING UP THE BANCROFT... 1889 STYLE

WHILE doing some research (in Bancroft) into the Great Dock Strike of 1889, I came across the following East London Advertiser article dated September 28 of that year.

"During the vacation just ended, the Mile End Vestry Hall in the Bancroft-road has been through the hands of the cleaner and decorator, while several useful improvements have been made. The ceiling of the hall has been very tastefully decorated and the walls cleaned. The other rooms in the building have also been overhauled."

Although I'm told that wasn't actually the last time any money was spent on Bancroft (that momentous event took place in the 1970s, a mere 30 years ago) it does make you wonder how times change...

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LABOUR SPIN INSULTS THE INTELLIGENCE

LABOUR issued a press release on the defection of the three Respect Independents last week.

Oli Rahman's quote, "I know in my heart that Respect has no future and that the best way I can help achieve lasting improvements for my community is to work as part of the mainstream Labour party... It is time to put our differences aside and work together", had the ring of truth about it. But the words attributed to the other two insulted the intelligence.

Here's part of Rania Khan's statement: "The Labour party is rebuilding in Tower Hamlets and going from strength to strength."

As a Respect councillor, she wrote this to the Advertiser: "Under New Labour, the gap between rich and poor has got wider and nowhere is this more true than in the East End."

Here's a sample from Lutfa Begum's statement: "The only party that can change things for the better for ordinary people is Gordon Brown's Labour Party."

Here's what she wrote in her Respect days: "New Labour has complacently presided over a corrupted electoral process."

Is that the same corrupted process which allows people to stand for one party, then slither to another when defeat beckons?

Maybe they should trigger a by-election and foot the bill themselves.

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Ted Jeory

ted.jeory@archant.co.uk

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