Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman staging rally in last-ditch battle with Eric Pickles

Embattled Mayor Rahman [left] and Communities Secretary Eric Pickles

Embattled Mayor Rahman [left] and Communities Secretary Eric Pickles - Credit: Archant

Embattled Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman holds a protest rally tonight in London’s East End in his fight against Communities State Secretary Eric Pickles.

He is rallying support against the move announced in Parliament last week ordering government commissioners to take over his £1.2 million Town Hall budget after auditors found it failed to provide “value for money.”

Joining Mayor Rahman are Respect’s radical MP George Galloway and former London Mayor Ken Livingstone.

He has circulated a “defence” appeal through social media claiming a witch-hunt is being waged against him while local democracy was being “undermined”.

Rahman’s message says: “You may have heard that despite Pickles’ sending in the attack dogs, the report he ordered found no fraud or corruption in Tower Hamlets.

“He has seized on any flimsy excuse to shut down the 37,395 voices that voted for Mayor Rahman and for a council that stands up to the cuts.”

The Communities Secretary’s move to send in commissioners, announced in the Commons on November 4, came after a PricewaterhouseCoopers report into Tower Hamlets funding declared a “dysfunctional” administration.

Most Read

Three commissioners are now overseeing and exercising council budget powers and are reporting directly to Pickles. Their powers over the next three years include allocating grants, hiring and firing staff, sales of public property and council publicity.

The Labour majority Opposition on the council has called for the mayor to step down.

Communities Minister Lord Tariq Ahmad said tonight: “The people of Tower Hamlets have a right to expect their Council Tax is properly accounted for, providing transparency and audit trails of how it’s spent and that democratic processes are upheld.

“Localism requires transparency, probity and robust scrutiny, as Eric Pickles said in parliament last week that ‘there can be no place for rotten boroughs in 21st-century Britain’.

“We don’t take intervention actions lightly, but previous interventions such as in Doncaster in 2010 have helped tackle dysfunctional governance and restore public confidence in the integrity of councils.

Rahman’s rally tonight aims to shore up his tenure as directly-elected mayor with his executive powers over one of the country’s biggest local authority budgets.