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Cabinet members slam brakes on when quizzed about their cars

PUBLISHED: 19:18 14 March 2008 | UPDATED: 13:07 05 October 2010

MIAMI - JULY 11:  Exhaust flows out of the tailpipe of a vehicle at ,

MIAMI - JULY 11: Exhaust flows out of the tailpipe of a vehicle at , "Mufflers 4 Less", July 11, 2007 in Miami, Florida. Florida Governor Charlie Crist plans on adopting California's tough car-pollution standards for reducing greenhouse gases under executive orders he plans to sign Friday in Miami. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

2007 Getty Images

Ted Jeory puts East End politicians in the dock A MONTH ago, 10 members of Tower Hamlets council s Labour cabinet foisted a new environmental policy on the the East End. Several days la

Ted Jeory puts East End politicians in the dock

A MONTH ago, 10 members of Tower Hamlets council's Labour cabinet foisted a new environmental policy on the East End.

Several days later, nine of them held court at a media briefing and preached that this new measure, linking the price of council parking permits to vehicle CO2 emissions, was vital to cut pollution.

Children are suffering from abnormally high rates of asthma and we really must do something to fight that, they said.

And to those cynical enough to suggest that the extra £1 million-a-year revenue the Town Hall will rake in from the new policy was the real driving force, the councillors replied: "Ridiculous! This is about our future!"

So two weeks ago I asked all cabinet members how many cars they each owned in their households, what cars they were, how much pollution they emit and what measures they were individually taking to reduce it.

Now, it's a sorry fact that some members of the cabinet don't like the Advertiser: they think we're 'unfair' to them, that we have an agenda, that we're always 'after' them.

They don't seem to realise that when they're talking to us, they're talking to you: their electorate. And when they don't talk, they're arrogantly ignoring you.

So, of the 10 I asked, six couldn't be bothered to reply.

They were deputy leader Sirajul Islam, Ohid Ahmed, Shafiqul Haque, Abdul Asad, Abdal Ullah and Motin Uz-Zaman.

And of the four who did have the good manners to reply, only Shiria Khatun answered the question. No-one in her household owns or drives a car.

The other three, leader Denise Jones, Josh Peck and Clair Hawkins, said bizarrely the issue of how much pollute our atmosphere was a "private matter" and therefore beyond public scrutiny.

Denise's answer was particularly odd because when I asked the same question this time last year, she quite openly told me she drove an old Renault.

And there was more muddled logic from Clair, who admitted that if a resident had asked her the same question while on the doorstep, she'd answer them, but not us.

Here's another fact...

I've been told that my question caused them so much angst they all discussed it at a special pre-cabinet forum earlier this month.

Whether the "it's a private matter" line was deliberately coined to protect the higher polluting and more hypocritical brethren among the cabinet is anyone's guess.

Whatever, their deafening silence and lack of demonstrable leadership is fascinating.

Watch this space to see what they all drive...

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COUNCIL LEADER MOVES TO THE RIGHT...

COUNCIL leader Denise Jones had her annual hour of being grilled by the overview and scrutiny committee last week.

She has, how shall we say, a unique style when under pressure, tilting her head to her right, leaning on her hand and proffering thoughtful gazes at interrogators before chirping, "Well, we'll have to agree to disagree" the moment discussion threatens to turn into real debate.

It was all extremely disarming, and even the committee's chair, Marc Francis, who revels in his 'hard man' role and seemed determined to give Denise a tough time, failed to land any heavy blows.

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TOP LIB DEM MOVES ON...

ALTHOUGH sad, Louise Alexander's resignation was not unexpected.

Neither, sadly, has been the first question asked of me by Respect politicos wondering who other parties will select as by-election candidates.

Not, "Who are they and what are their policies"... but simply, "Are they white or Bangladeshi?"

It's perhaps one reason why Louise, who can't stand such attitudes and who was a top class councillor for everyone, has decided to call it a day.

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Advertiser Chief Reporter Ted Jeory

ted.jeory@archant.co.uk

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