Tower Hamlets Council rejects bid to divert an extra £300k into anti-extremism programmes

PUBLISHED: 16:21 21 February 2019

Shamima Begum from Bethnal Green has been stripped of her British citizenship. Pic: Met Police

Shamima Begum from Bethnal Green has been stripped of her British citizenship. Pic: Met Police


Tower Hamlets councillors last night refused to discuss an “emergency motion” which would divert an extra £300,000 into anti-extremism programmes.

Shamima Begum going through Gatwick's security. Pic: Met PoliceShamima Begum going through Gatwick's security. Pic: Met Police

At a full council meeting, Liberal Democrat Rabina Khan, supported by two Conservatives members, tabled a budget amendment that would see cash taken from the communications budget and given to the Prevention of Violent Extremism Family Support Team.

The motion was submitted last minute after the publicity surrounding IS teenager Shamima Bergum – one of three schoolgirls from Bethnal Green who left to join the terrorist group in Syria in 2015.

Now aged 19 and with a newborn son, she was found in an Syrian refugee camp by the Times last week after reportedly leaving Baghuz.

The teenager has been stripped of her British citizenship and has refused to renounce her support for the terror group.

Cllr Khan said the extra money would be used to “develop young leaders to challenge extremist opinions” in the borough and “help people understand the consequences of becoming involved with extremist groups”.

But Labour councillors argued that many of the proposals in the motion were already being done by the council and the Prevent team, which helps and identfies young people at risk of being radicalised.

Mayor John Biggs said: “We have had no sight of this motion previously and it contains a whole number of proposals, some of which I disagree with and others which are happening already. We have had a number of external reviews of our safeguarding, which have assured us that we are in a good place in the terms of our resourcing and the way we are performing.”

Four councillors voted to discuss the budget amendment and 36 voted against.

Tower Hamlets is a “Prevent Tier 1” priority area, meaning residents are more at risk of radicalisation than in other places.

It receives additional funding from the government to deliver projects which combat extremism.

The Home Office reviewed the borough’s Prevent programmes in March last year and noted that they were delivered “to an extremely high standard”.

“Prevent is well embedded across the authority with strong leadership in place from the mayor and the chief executive,” the report states.

“Local management is strong with the Prevent coordinator well supported by senior managements who are increasingly building bridges across departments.”

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