The future of Tower Hamlets public services is under the spotlight at crucial budget meeting
The future of public services in Tower Hamlets will be debated by the council tonight at a vital budget meeting.
Councillors will talk over �72 million worth of cuts for the next three years at the Town Hall in Mulberry Place with union and protest groups promising to make their voices heard outside the meeting.
On the table is mayor Lutfur Rahman’s budget which includes a �1.8 million cut to supported housing, staffing reductions of 12 per cent, �2.9 million cuts from Sure Start centres and �1 million savings through improved recovery of parking fines.
His cabinet has shown a willingness to reconsider cuts after changing its mind on the future of the council’s homecare service and also extending the life of a housing link service for people with mental health problems.
But Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Respect councillors are all preparing amendments to the budget originally set out by Mr Rahman’s cabinet of Independent councillors.
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The Tories propose scrapping council newspaper East End Life which costs �1.6 million a year, cutting the annual bill for consultants and staff conferences by a fifth and investigating sharing back-office functions with other London boroughs.
Conservative finance spokesman David Snowdon said: “The council consulted just 34 people on some of the most far-reaching budget plans this council has published yet even those 34 said they wanted East End Life scrapped.”
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Labour also has new costings to present to the mayor including freezing his salary and the basic councillors’ allowance, capping funding of support staff for the Mayor to �271,000 and only putting �2.7 million into reserve instead of the proposed �3 million.
If the mayor did not agree to budget amendments but half of councillors supported them, they could be carried over to a second budget meeting as early as March 8.