Tower Hamlets deputy mayor under fire for £140 taxi ride to UNISON event
PUBLISHED: 18:00 27 April 2013 | UPDATED: 09:28 03 May 2013
Councillors have come under fire after the taxpayer footed the bill for a £140 taxi ride for them to attend a birthday celebration with civil rights activist Jesse Jackson.
Tower Hamlets deputy mayor Cllr Ohid Ahmed shared a cab with Cllrs Shahed Ali and Kabir Ahmed from the town hall in Poplar to an event at trade union UNISON’s headquarters in Euston, triggering calls for an investigation.
Opposition members claim the function - organised by the Labour Party - is political, and have called on Independent Cllr Ahmed to reimburse the public for the trip.
In a letter to council chiefs, Tory group leader Cllr Peter Golds said: “There is no way this event could be considered as anything but political.”
The seven mile journey would cost around £30-£40 in a black cab, according to online calculators.
Euston is also accessible from East India DLR station near the town hall in around 30 minutes on public transport, Transport for London estimates.
Cllr Golds said the fare could only be explained by the possibility of the councillors leaving the cab outside the event, which was in December 2011, with the meter running while they attended.
But the deputy mayor claimed it was his assistant who booked the taxi, and justified it because of his busy schedule that day.
He said: “There’s a huge BME (black and minority ethnic) community in this borough. When they see someone like Jessie Jackson they are inspired and they like it - it’s not a political thing.
“Because of the nature of council business, sometimes you just jump in a taxi because of the time pressure.”
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