Tower Hamlets Mayor slammed over 21 special advisers paid for by council tax

A Town Hall row has erupted over the Mayor of Tower Hamlets employing up to 21 ‘special advisers’ out of council taxes—including one contract being dished out at �1,000 a day.

Opposition groups plan to raise the issue at next Wednesday’s key budget meeting on public spending.

Communities Secretary of State Eric Pickles has accused Mayor Lutfur Rahman of “wasting taxpayers’ money in Britain’s poorest borough.”

The council’s Tory Opposition group leader Peter Golds is to challenge the Mayor at the budget meeting after obtaining details of the consultancy contracts under a Freedom of Information request.

“Why does he need more advisers than the Prime Minister, Chancellor and Foreign Secretary combined?” demanded Cllr Golds.

“There are 21 names on his list, many doubling up on the jobs of the council’s own highly-paid senior officers.

“The mayor has given jobs at public expense to those who helped get him get elected.

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“His office is full of cronies getting strange jobs and paid for out of the council tax when Tower Hamlets is being forced to cut back on public services.”

One name on the list is Tony Winterbottom, advising on major projects, who works three days a month at �1,000 a day, Cllr Golds has discovered.

The head of the mayor’s Mayor’s Office, Murziline Parchment, Ken Livingstone’s former adviser, works 30 hours a week on an annual pro-rata salary that could fetch up to �60,000 for a 40-hour week.

Steven Beckett, former Labour councillor and campaigner for Lutfur running for executive mayor in 2010, is listed as adviser on surgeries and community consultation for two days a week, at �150 a day.

Mark Seddon, former editor of Tribune, is media and communications strategy adviser one day a week on �200, while Mohammed Jubair advises on community media matters one day a week at �175.

A special adviser on boundary review matters is said to be 20-year-old Cambridge University student Axel Landin, getting �8.39 an hour.

There are also aides being paid to advise on the Olympics, improving quality of life and youth engagement.

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said: “It’s astonishing that one of the poorest boroughs in the country sees fit to squander such amounts of public cash in this way.

“Tower Hamlets seems to be living the ultimate champagne socialist lifestyle, leaving taxpayers to pick up the tabs.”

Tower Hamlets Council has responded to allegations of excessive spending on the �1,000-a-day contract for a major projects adviser saying: “The scale of development and regeneration amounts to nearly �1 billion—this highly specialist advice and experience is required.”

A contract was put out to tender in the summer to procure advice on regeneration and economic development opportunities “through the usual tendering process.”

The Mayor was unavailable for comment when approached by the Advertiser.