Petition launched over threat to close Tower Hamlets ‘One Stop’ council shop

Campaigners are planning a rally and have started a petition to prevent one of the busiest one-stop council service shops in London’s deprived East End closing down.

The threat comes in budget proposals by Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman who proposes closing Bethnal Green’s Rushmead centre to save �283,000 over the next two years. He is facing �45 million in government cuts.

But critics say Rushmead is used by nearly 50,000 people a year and is vital to maintain community contact with council services.

Opposition councillors are backing residents who launched the petition this week.

“Many people using Rushmead are elderly and are angry and worried,” said Labour’s Carlo Gibbs.

“I found so much anger on the doorsteps when I was out helping collect signatures last night.”

Cllr Gibbs tried raising a question about Rushmead at Wednesday night’s council meeting—but the mayor refused to respond.

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Lib Dem’s Stephanie Eaton has had a private meeting with the mayor to try and persuade him to change his mind.

She told the Advertiser tonight: “I feel really strongly that closing Rushmead is a mistake—a lot of people would be affected.”

Tower Hamlets Council has now begun public consultations over the controversial proposal “to understand the impact this closure could have on the community.”

Mayor Rahman said: “I’m keen to ensure savings are found in a way which least affects the community. So we’re talking to trade unions, residents and others to discuss the impact that closing Rushmead may have.”

Half the inquiries recorded at the centre are about hosing benefit cuts.

Residents’ petition organiser John Pearce said: “This is not the time to be cutting this service in a deprived area like Bethnal Green.”

He is now planning a three-hour rally and petition signing outside the Rushmead, off Bethnal green Road, from 10am to 1pm tomorrow week, February 4.