Furious demonstrators protest against cuts to advice centres in Tower Hamlets

Furious residents and politicians staged a rally outside Tower Hamlets Law Centre on Saturday to protest against cuts to community and advice services.

Demonstrators brandished placards saying, “In tough times, people need support”, after Tower Hamlets Council slashed the budget for various advice centres in the borough by up to 75 per cent.

Mayor Lutfur Rahman has blamed the government for forcing the local authority’s hand, but the decision was controversial and the local Labour Party organised the rally and gathered nearly 1,000 signatures to petition against the cuts.

Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, Rushanara Ali, helped led the protest at the outside the centre in Whitechapel Road, Whitechapel, at the weekend.

Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Joshua Peck, said he has requested a meeting with the mayor to raise councillors’ concerns but has yet to receive a response.

He added: “Many families across Tower Hamlets are facing big changes as a result of the government’s benefit and housing cuts.

“Now more than ever they will need access to the free legal and welfare advice which often represents a lifeline for residents.

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“With over �900,000 left unspent in the [Tower Hamlets] grants budget there is no excuse not to act.”

But a spokeswoman for the council said the authority is doing everything it can to protect vulnerable residents, despite “unprecedented” central government cuts to the borough’s funding.