Mayor pledges to reverse Banglatown plans

The furious row over plans to scrap the electoral ward of Banglatown has prompted Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman to call on councillors to join together to block the move.

Controversial proposals put forward by the borough’s Conservative group which remove “Banglatown” from the Spitalfields and Banglatown ward have been adopted by the Local Government Boundary Commission in their latest recommendations.

But at last week’s council meeting, Mayor Rahman called on councillors to support him by using legislation which allows him to reverse the recommendations with a two thirds majority in council. He has already written to the Commission and Communities Secretary Eric Pickles urging them to drop the proposals.

He said: “I call upon everyone to support our campaign to reinstate Banglatown and Lansbury, and I will do whatever we can to make sure that happens.

“I have written to the boundary commission, and if the changes are made I will ask this house to change the ward name back to what it was.”

The comments coincided with calls from the Labour group as well as the mayor’s independent cabinet for the name to be preserved.

Labour cllr for Spitalfields and Banglatown Helal Abbas said: “The people of Tower Hamlets do not want the Banglatown name to go.

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“It is a vital part of our cultural diversity and reflects the important role of the Bangladeshi Community.”

After their proposals being branded “disgraceful” by cabinet members, Conservative councillors insisted they are proportionate. They cited the fact that other concentrations of ethnic communities, such as Chinatown, do not have electoral wards named after them.

Cllr David Snowdon added: “We recognise the contribution of the Bangladeshi community across the borough.

“The Bangladeshi community has made a huge impact across the borough, both economically and politically.”

Conservative group leader cllr Peter Golds called into question whether the council has the legal power to reverse measures implemented by the boundary commission.

The consultation period on the proposals is set to continue until the New Year, and more than 600 people have already signed an online petition to “save Banglatown”.

Other proposals contained in the report include dropping “Lansbury” from the East India and Lansbury ward, and absorbing St Dunstan’s and Stepney Green into Stepney West and Stepney East.

The measure has already met with opposition from councillor for St Dunstan’s and Stepney Green Oliur Rahman, who pledged to “fully support” a campaign to block the moves.