Tower Hamlets mayor barred using official car—so he runs up �500 monthly taxi bills
The executive Mayor of Tower Hamlets in London’s deprived East End is barred from using the official ‘mayor’s car’ to get around—so he has run up taxi bills of more than �2,000 in his first four months of office, it has emerged.
Opponents are now challenging Lutfur Rahman for using cabs at �500 a month instead of his own car or public transport.
But Tower Hamlets Council decided the East End’s first newly-elected mayor would not be allowed to use the ceremonial car reserved for the former ‘civic’ mayor—now known as the chairman.
“It sits in the car park most of the time,” said an aide close to the mayor. “The council decided not to give him access to the car.
“But Lutfur has to get round the borough, take calls, read briefing notes and policy papers.
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“Sometimes he has seven or eight meetings back-to-back, so he needs cabs.”
His taxi bills reached �2,191 from his election in October to the end of February, according to the Tory opposition which is now questioning the Mayor’s personal expenses when cuts are being made elsewhere.
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Tory Group Leader Peter Golds told the East London Advertiser: “Mayor Rahman is paid �65,000 a year and owns a very smart car which he parks at the town hall.
“Yet black cabs are regularly seen outside with ‘Lutfur Rahman’ written on card in the windscreens.
“It’s vanity. There are other mayors and Government ministers who have back-to-back meetings who use public transport.”
But a Town Hall spokesman insisted Lutfur often has no option but to work on the move.
The spokesman said: “Using taxis to meet residents, businesses, organisations and others in the community is an efficient way of doing just that—just as other elected mayors do.”
Lutfur’s aides point out that even Boris Johnson and David Cameron—known for riding bikes around town—use cabs when the media isn’t following on camera.