New Town Hall plan for Tower Hamlets branded "expensive vanity project"
PUBLISHED: 13:25 19 February 2013 | UPDATED: 13:25 19 February 2013
Plans for a new Town Hall unveiled by Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman have been branded "another expensive vanity project" by critics.
Mr Rahman said a new building would save residents cash, insisting the lease on the current Town Hall is unaffordable.
The plan for a brand new venue to replace the existing site, in Mulberry Place, Blackwall, was revealed at a behind-closed-doors meeting last week.
Cabinet member for resources Cllr Alibor Choudhury said: “The current Town Hall lease costs the council millions of pounds in rent each year; this is a massive drain on our resources.
“The current Town Hall is also located in an area that is not as accessible as it should be, to local people. That’s why we’re looking at new sites in the heart of the borough that will lead to a rent free asset that will benefit the community for generations.”
But opposition councillors dismissed the announcement as a “pie in the sky plan”, insisting a looming budget shortfall in 2016 meant it was an unachievable goal.
Labour group leader Cllr Joshua Peck said: “It is unbelievable that the Mayor would want to spend millions of pounds on another expensive vanity project building a new Town Hall.
“Residents will be outraged that the Mayor is considering building himself a new state of the art office.”
Tory leader Cllr Peter Golds was equally scathing, adding: “The first thing they’ll consider is will there by a parking space at the front big enough to show of Lutfur’s car?
“They are always talking about cuts, but they always throw money at something to benefit him or his supporters.”
The council declined to disclose how much it was planning to spend on the project, which sites were under consideration, how much the lease of the current site was costing the taxpayer, or any timetable for completion of the project.