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'Families who don't like Victoria Park festivals should move away'—councillor

PUBLISHED: 00:01 28 June 2013 | UPDATED: 07:20 28 June 2013

Families living next to east London's Victoria Park have been shocked by a member of Mayor Lutfur Rahman's administration urging them to move house if festivals in the park upset them.

"I’d be interested to know if these families would go on the housing exchange register"

—Shahed Ali

Shahed Ali suggested they could go on a housing exchange register and swap with tenants living in his own Whitechapel neighbourhood.

The outburst came in a debate in which the council voted to call on the Mayor to “respect the democratic mandate of the authority” which has twice agreed to limit event days to six a year, end them by 10pm and put a cap on noise levels and crowd capacity.

But instead, the mayor has put out a tender inviting companies to bid for a three-year contract for up to 30 commercial event days.

Cllr Ali said: “I’d be interested to know if local ward councillors have considered asking these families if they would go on the exchange register.

"It’s not a class issue—so why are you making it one?"

—Amy Whitelock

“Many residents in Whitechapel would happily exchange with them and move into their houses. They can come and speak to me—I’ll help them make that move.”

The suggestion brought outrage from Labour’s Amy Whitelock, accusing him of “starting a class war” and pointing out the noise and disturbance reached a housing estate in Bethnal Green, not just families living by the park.

“Ali’s arrogance is unbelievable—it’s an outrageous remark,” she said. “It’s not a class issue, so why are you making it one?”

The row followed an earlier spat involving Cllr Ali during Public Question Time when resident Janet Wade asked why the Mayor failed to bring in the six-day limit agreed by the council.

Cllr Ali, speaking for the mayor, referred to “these difficult times” when priority was housing, education and protecting the most vulnerable from welfare reforms.

Mrs Wade slammed back: “We appreciate these are difficult times—but that doesn’t mean public parks should be used just to raise revenue rather than benefit people.

“We’re beginning to think the council isn’t a fit and proper body to manage the park.”

The big events were “not family friendly,” she maintained. They were too big, too noisy and go on too late.

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