D-Day for community and advice centres’ futures delayed

The futures of welfare and advice centres across Tower Hamlets remain unclear after the Mayor of Tower Hamlets elected to remove the decision from the agenda of a cabinet meeting scheduled for tonight (Wednesday).

Several organisations have said they may be forced to close or reduce the services they provide if Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman presses ahead with the cuts.

The discussion on where funding was due to be allocated was due to be announced at a cabinet meeting last night, but Mr Rahman elected to remove the item from the meeting’s agenda on Wednesday morning.

The Labour group has criticised the Mayor for cutting grants awarded to established community and advice centres, while providing extra funding for several new bodies.

At a scrutiny committee meeting on Tuesday Labour alleged that some cabinet members and advisors have personal connections to the organisations set to receive extra funding.

Labour group leader cllr Josh Peck said: “The allegation is that it seems on the face of it that the Mayor has taken into account the sorts of relationships that are inappropriate to take into account when allocating funding.

“It’s about why money has moved from some organisations to others. It’s very unclear why that’s happened.

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“I would have very big concerns about where the money is going to be spent.”

However, cabinet member for resources cllr Alibor Choudhury dismissed Labour’s accusations.

He said: “This is not about giving your friends money, but about making sure services deliver for people, whoever they are and whatever background they are from.”

He added that no final decision had been reached on Tuesday, and that if anything there would be increases in funding awarded to organisations.

Organisations threatened by the funding cuts are allocated include the Appian Court resource centre in Bow, which assists up to 60 older people on a daily basis, and Tower Hamlets Law Centre in Whitechapel Road.