Banglatown and other electoral ward names ‘saved’ after Commission’s climbdown

Controversial plans to scrap electoral wards in Tower Hamlets have been abandoned after fierce local opposition.

The Local Government Boundary Commission climbed down from proposals to drop ward names including Banglatown, St Dunstan’s and Lansbury.

Draft plans published in November prompted fury, with councillors and community leaders furious that historically significant names and prominent ethnic groups were ignored by them.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman was among the critics of the plan, at one stage threatening legal action over the removal of ‘Banglatown’ from the Spitalfields and Banglatown ward.

He said: “I’m delighted the Commission has seen sense and rejected these divisive proposals and reinstated Banglatown on the electoral map.

“I’m grateful to everyone who has supported us. This is truly a victory for community spirit.

“I am equally pleased that the historic contribution of East End and Labour movement icon, George Lansbury, has been reinstated along with St Dunstan’s”, he added.

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Labour group leader Cllr Joshua Peck also welcomed the u-turn.

“This result shows that the Boundary Commission have done the right thing and listened to the strong response from across the community and the political divide”, he said.

“Banglatown is a symbol of the strength and diversity of our community and I am glad it will remain a feature for years to come.”

Conservative councillors in the borough had supported the plans to drop the ward name of ‘Banglatown’. But Tory group leader Cllr Peter Golds was left satisfied with the outcome announced this week.

“These organisations listen to what people say”, he said. “Everybody has a different view on these things.”

But plans to reduce the number of councillors representing Tower Hamlets by six are going through – meaning there will be 45 rather than the existing 51 members in the chamber from 2014.

Chair of the Boundary Commission Max Caller said: “We have sought to balance the views expressed to us by local people with the criteria we must apply when we are deciding on new electoral arrangements.

“We believe these recommendations deliver electoral equality for voters as well as reflecting the identities of communities across Tower Hamlets.”

The proposals must now be pushed through Parliament, before coming into force in time for the 2014 local elections.