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Labour Opposition elects new leader to face Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman

PUBLISHED: 18:59 09 May 2011

Cllr Helal Abbas

Cllr Helal Abbas

Carmen Valino

The Opposition Labour group on Tower Hamlets council is meeting this-evening (Monday) to elect its new leadership in what will be one of the toughest years for cuts in London's deprived East End.

Helal Abbas could be standing down after the termoil of the past 12 month in his failed bid to be elected Tower Hamlets’ first executive mayor. He was put up as Labour candidate against former council leader Lutfur Rahman, who quit the party after being deselected by its national executive.

But Cllr Abbas lost heavily at the October polls and switched from being council leader to Opposition group leader overnight when Rahman took over the Tower Hall.

Now there is speculation that Cllr Abbas may step down. Contenders for the group leadership could include David Edgar, another former council leader with a long track record of Labour politics in the East End.

But it won’t be an easy 12 months for the largest group on the council, having to be in Opposition to Lutfur Rahman’s independent administration. Tower Hamlets faces swingeing cuts in public spending estimated at around £72 million in the next three years.

The Tory Opposition, meanwhile, re-elected its group leader at the AGM last week when Cllr Peter Golds was returned unopposed.

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