Mayor rejects Labour plans at budget meeting, but free school meals in the works
PUBLISHED: 11:04 10 March 2014 | UPDATED: 11:04 10 March 2014
The mayor of Tower Hamlets has rejected budget proposals voted for by the council to pass his own budget at a meeting last week.
Mayor Lutfur Rahman overturned a council decision to adopt the Labour group’s amendments to the budget, which included free school meals for all primary school children.
In the meeting on March 6, Mr Rahman said Labour’s plans - which had passed by 22 votes to 17 with seven councillors abstaining the week before - were a political stunt that was not costed properly.
He said alternate proposals for free school meals would be presented to the council at the end of March.
The final budget for 2014/15 includes a freeze on Council Tax, no cuts to frontline services like libraries and children’s centres, and a new Town Hall in Whitechapel, which the mayor says will save taxpayers £14million per year.
Mayor Rahman said: “In these times of austerity, this budget strikes a balance between investment and prudence. Sadly, Labour’s proposals do neither.”
He said the alternate free meals scheme written by council officers “will give free school meals to all primary children, for the whole year, without cuts to any other services.”
Labour dismissed the idea its proposals were not costed properly and called the proposed Town Hall a “palace” that would waste taxpayer’s money.
The group also claimed its defeated amendments would have removed funding for the mayor’s official car, which the mayor has announced he would scrap for April and May of this year for the election.
John Biggs, Labour’s mayoral candidate, said: “Lutfur Rahman says he supports free school meals but obviously not enough to give up his car. It just goes to show how wrong his priorities are.”
He added: “The fact that he wants to spend unknown millions on a new Town Hall as opposed to protecting services for residents tells you everything you need to know.”