Tower Hamlets Council in spat over state of finances

A war of words has erupted between two councils leading one to accuse the other of dabbling in “politics of the lowest order”.

In a strongly worded letter to the Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman on Monday, Cllr Lester Hudson, Newham’s Deputy Mayor, attacked claims made in a Tower Hamlets press briefing about his borough’s ­finances.

Last week this newspaper contacted Tower Hamlets Council about a ‘‘black hole’’ in it’s budget.

Tower Hamlets council’s response made claims about the financial position of other local authorities – Newham included.

This provoked an angry ­reposte by Cllr Hudson, who said the press briefing chose the wrong target.

Cllr Hudson, Newham’s cabinet member for finance, wrote: “To try to deflect criticism of the Tower Hamlets position by including selective interpretation of the financial position of Labour-run councils that are under attack by the Conservative-Liberal coalition government is politics of the lowest order.” The spat comes after Tower Hamlets Council made a freedom of information request to Newham into how much they spend on chauffeurs for their mayor.

Cllr Hudson said Tower Hamlets had broken its promise not to comment on how other councils are run.

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He wrote: “I will leave it the voters of Tower Hamlets to give their verdict on a Mayor who seeks to comment on the budget positions of other Councils while maintaining a personal limousine that collects his dry cleaning.”

A spokesperson for Mr Rahman said: “Our briefing was designed to show that this borough, in common with neighbouring boroughs such as Newham are facing an unprecedented squeeze from central government.

“This intemperate letter from Cllr Hudson will undoubtedly be welcomed by our Conservative opponents.

“It shows that their old policy of ‘divide and rule’ is working.”