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Rahman passes 'immoral' care cuts amid outcry

PUBLISHED: 13:21 11 March 2015 | UPDATED: 13:21 11 March 2015

Mayor Lutfur Rahman was criticised by opponents from the Labour and Conservative parties

Mayor Lutfur Rahman was criticised by opponents from the Labour and Conservative parties

Archant

Lutfur Rahman has refused to scrap his tax-funded car while backing cuts to services helping children and young people leaving care.

The council passed its original budget cuts at a meeting last Thursday, despite amendments from Labour councillor Rachael Saunders being approved prior to the meeting.

These proposed scrapping the mayoral car and advisers to save £365,000 while spending £427,000 to reverse cuts to services helping children leaving care.

Cllr Saunders accused the mayor of being out of touch with the borough.

“It’s wrong and immoral to cut support for those children [leaving care],” she said. “Labour is proposing you protect the leaving care services from cuts.”

The mayor’s refusal to scrap his tax-funded car and advisers also provoked criticism from Tory councillor Chris Chapman who said he will be judged “very harshly” by history.

“You have shown complete contempt for your residents,” he added.

But, addressing the council chamber, Lutfur Rahman defended his actions, saying: “Managing the hardships of austerity was always going to be a challenge. Let’s pass this budget and get back to serving the people of Tower Hamlets.”

The mayor’s promotion of programmes teaching immigrants their “mother tongue” instead of investing in English was criticised by Conservative councillor Andrew White, who accused him of failing

to promote community cohesion.

“There are 22 foreign languages spoken by residents but we are only teaching Bengali, Somali and Lebanese,” he

said.

“How is community cohesion served if we are only teaching language for three mother tongues?”

He recommended prioritising English language programmes.

But Cllr Rabina Khan responded with hostility, citing the slave trade and imperialism.

“Don’t lecture me about cohesion when you forget the history of this country,” she said.

“People in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh were not expected to ‘learn’ English. It was forced upon them and slaves.”

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