Boycotted Tower Hamlets Mayor Rahman left holding budget baby

THE ‘big crunch’ comes next week as Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman gets ready to sack 200 council staff and another 300 agency workers when Downing Street spells out the cuts facing London’s East End from April.

He accused the Government last night (Wednesday) of having to do their “dirty work” as the country’s third-most deprived borough is slapped with economies of �80 million over the next four years, as part of the national push to get Britain out of the world recession.

Mayor Rahman—the man sacked by Labour in the run-up to his election as Mayor—is left holding the baby.

He faces the Coalition Government head on with a Town Hall boycott at his back—neither of the two political parties on the council will join him to face the onslaught.

“The Con-Dems are forcing us to do their dirty work,” he told last night’s crisis cabinet meeting at the Town Hall.

“The sadness and anger I feel is the over-zealous cuts being forced on us that threaten the heart of our community.”

He called for “bickering” councillors to join him to take the Government on.

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“I call on the two major parties who’ve decided not to work with me to end the petty bickering,” he urged.

“They should help me protect hundreds of thousands of people across the East End.”

But his comments—targeted at the majority Labour group still feeling miffed at his running as an independent against their official candidate for Mayor in October—fell on deaf ears.

As for the Tory Opposition, they were just being Tories and would not get into bed with the former Labour council leader.

His cabinet member for resources, Alibor Choudhury, said: “These Government cuts are a sledgehammer to the poorest and most impoverished areas designed to cause chaos, especially to inner-city boroughs like Tower Hamlets.”

The authority had allowed for 25 per cent cuts in Government grants, he explained, but it was going to be more.

“We only have 12 weeks left to set next year’s budget,” added Cllr Choudhury. “We are unsure even now what effect it’s going to have on the community.”

But the Town Hall does have a framework in place. Costly management is being streamlined, agency workers are being dropped, council offices at Blackwall’s luxury Anchorage House office block are being closed by 2013 to save �7m and there’s hard bargaining ahead with suppliers and contractors to save �3m a month from April.

It means 500 posts lost, including 200 permanent staff. But an �8m kitty is being set aside for redundancy handouts.

The last one out of the Town Hall at night will turn the lights off.