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Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes says Tower Hamlets won't be hit hard by cuts

PUBLISHED: 17:47 19 October 2010 | UPDATED: 11:15 20 October 2010

Simon Hughes meets a market stall  holder while campaigning for John Griffiths

Simon Hughes meets a market stall holder while campaigning for John Griffiths

Olivia Harris

DEPUTY leader of the Liberal Democrats Simon Hughes has assured Tower Hamlets residents they will be spared the worst in tomorrow's spending cuts.

Mr Hughes, the MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, made the vow today while campaigning for John Griffiths, the Lib Dem candidate for the borough’s mayoral election, to be held on Thursday.

The Lib Dem heavyweight said: “I know the details of the cuts and there will still be a significant amount of money coming to Tower Hamlets.

“The things that are really important for a borough like this, like education spending and local youth services, have specific government attention.

“One difficult area will be housing. But even then, there will not be any massive reductions.

“Tower Hamlets won’t suffer more than any other place.”

His promises come after damning new evidence showed that Tower Hamlets has the highest proportion of households at risk of long term unemployment in the country.

Leafleting in Bethnal Green Road, Mr Hughes said Mr Griffiths should get East Enders’ votes because his link to the coalition government will make him more successful in lobbying for funds.

He added: “Residents need someone who will be close to government.

“John knows about the community. He can be robust from a basis of 20 years learning how Tower Hamlets works.”

One resident the politicians met - Ruhel Ullah, 27, from Bethnal Green - said he hopes more cash will be injected into youth projects.

Mr Ullah is a black belt in karate and needs support to start his own martial arts group.

He said: “I hope whoever gets in supports projects to get young people off the streets.”

A trader in Bethnal Green Road market said parking is a big problem and the new mayor needs to support small businesses.

Lib Dem candidate Mr Griffiths has vowed to devolve power to local community groups and give them a say over their finances.

Speaking of the mayoral position - which would put full control of the council’s finances into the hands of the winner - Mr Griffiths added: “It’s far too powerful a position for one person. I’d make sure councillors have power.”

The pair also argued the recent divisions in the Labour party are distracting from the important issues.

Mr Rahman, who is standing as an independent, was suspended by Labour’s National Executive Committee and replaced with council leader Mr Abbas last month after allegations of vote rigging.

Meanwhile, Mr Hughes took a swipe at former London mayor Ken Livingstone for campaigning on behalf of independent Mr Rahman.

The Labour party have said that any member supporting a non-Labour candidate could be expelled.

Mr Hughes said: “You can’t have one rule for Ken Livingstone and another rule for other members. I look forward to seeing how the party reacts to this.”

Conservative Neil King and Green Alan Duffell are also standing in Thursday’s election.

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