Lutfur Rahman, Tower Hamlet’s new mayor, sees his salary cut by �10,000
Lutfur Rahman will not have appreciated that his first matter of council business last night (October 27) as the borough’s new mayor was a �10,000 cut to his salary.
Appearing at the first council meeting at the Town Hall in Mulberry Place since his election, he spoke of his pride in his new role in front of over 100 supporters in the public gallery.
Tower Hamlet’s first-ever directly-elected mayor also rewarded his campaign manager, Ohid Ahmed, by appointing him as deputy mayor but will wait until November 11 to announce his cabinet.
Mr Rahman’s joy at the occasion soon turned to dismay though as he accused the council’s Labour Group of pettiness in putting forward an amendment to cut his annual salary from �75,095 to �65,000.
The amendment to a constitutional report, which also limits the number of paid advisers the Mayor can employ, was passed by the council.
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Mayor Rahman said: “It saddens me on the first day that we indulge in this kind of petty politics.
“During my two years as council leader I was the only leader in this council’s history that took a 25 per cent pay cut for the year.
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“Let me say, I don’t do this for money but let me remind you I have given up a successful legal career and a partnership in a legal firm.
“What drives me is will and the urge to serve. I am happy with whatever I am paid.”
The mayors of Hackney, Lewisham and Newham earn salaries of between �75,000 and �78,000 a year.
Speaking to the council, Labour councillor Josh Peck, chairman of the working group which put forward the constitutional report, said there had been an ‘oversight’ after the report was originally agreed in August.
At an internal Labour meeting in September, members narrowly voted to increase the salary for the full-time role to �75,000 but Mr Peck told The Advertiser today this shouldn’t have been included in the report because it was not agreed by other parties.
Last night, Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem councillors all voted in favour of the amendment.
But Independent councillor Oliur Rahman, one of the ‘gang-of-eight’ councillors expelled from the Labour Party for backing Lutfur Rahman’s mayoral bid, said: “This can only be a petty and cynical response to losing an election.”
Mr Peck replied that the lower salary was set before mayoral candidates were selected and said the new mayor proposed a salary of �32,000 before he was shortlisted.
He said today: “�65,000 is the right salary, it is a good salary.”
In his opening comments, Mr Rahman thanked the people of Tower Hamlets for electing him as their mayor.
He said: “I invite councillors from across the chamber to help and advise me.”
Of his new deputy, a former cabinet member for resources, he said: “I believe he did a wonderful job.
“He is a respected member of the community and I believe he will serve with a lot of commitment and dedication.”
In a testing atmosphere, Respect councillor Harun Miah drew a loud response from the gallery when he said Lutfur Rahman and the mayoral system was a product of the Respect party.
Chairman Motin Uz-Zaman threatened to exclude members of the public gallery on more than one occasion after heckles of “you lost” and “right-wing” towards Labour councillors.