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EastEnders? There’s a better soap—at the Town Hall

PUBLISHED: 14:04 11 March 2009 | UPDATED: 14:10 05 October 2010

Dear Ed, PEOPLE who learn that I live in East London usually ask whether I watch EastEnders on TV. No, I tell them, because there is a much better real life soap opera about the real life Tower Hamlets played out every time there is a meeting at the Town Hall

Dear Ed,

PEOPLE who learn that I live in East London usually ask whether I watch EastEnders on TV.

No, I tell them, because there is a much better real life soap opera about the real life Tower Hamlets played out every time there is a meeting at the Town Hall.

The meeting on March 4 to set the budget was like an omnibus edition of the soap, with characters reminiscent of Pauline Fowler and Dirty Den’ in the council chamber.

Since there will be local elections next year, it was no surprise that Labour council cabinet member Josh Peck made much of the fact that the council tax increase in the coming year will be “the sixth lowest in London” at 1.69 per cent.

As much as any council can claim to spend its revenues wisely, the outcome is largely determined by the size of the grant it receives from the Labour Government.

The (Tory) opposition believes it can do better, or as Cllr Tim Archer said, would have presented a “bigger, better and cheaper” budget.

The money would come from scrapping the council’s freesheet newspaper East End Life—Walford in EastEnders has its own fictitious newspaper, the Walford Gazette’.

I don’t know if the Queen Vic pub provides free food for its customers, but the free food at the Town Hall is another item the Tories would chop.

The Liberal Democrats put forward a similar proposal in the 1980s to differentiate themselves from what they saw as symbolic of the self-indulgence of the council of the time.

It was all play acting, like EastEnders, however serious the intent, because there was no chance of their budget proposals being accepted.

What was also totally predictable was the way three converts’ from Respect to Labour stood up to denounce the Tory budget proposals. Cllr Hislop made the funniest comment, although he didn’t intent it to be, when he said the Tory proposals to save money were like asking Gordon Brown to be his own chancellor. Well, isn’t he?

In any soap opera, there are extras that have non-speaking parts. They are just there to make up the numbers.

In EastEnders, they are the drinkers in the Queen Vic or people with walk-on parts in Albert Square. All they have to do is turn up and blend into the background. They get paid less than actors who have speaking’ parts.

There are lots of councillors in the chamber, elected to speak on our behalf, but don’t seem to have speaking’ parts. One way to reduce costs would be to cut them from the council’s budget. It would be entirely appropriate since fewer people today have the money to go to the pub or go down The Roman.’

But perish the thought. Councillors voted after setting the budget to increase their own allowances for the coming year.

Terry Mc Grenera

Devons Road, Bromley-by-Bow


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