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Portillo back in Cabinet politics on budgets—but not in Downing St

PUBLISHED: 18:00 11 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:36 05 October 2010

Portillo... in the limelight at a budget meeting

Portillo... in the limelight at a budget meeting

EX-GOVERNMENT Cabinet minister Michael Portillo was invited by another cabinet to a budget meeting, but well outside Downing Street. He turned up in London's East End for one of Tower Hamlets council's public budget debate' meetings for residents

By Mike Brooke

EX-GOVERNMENT Cabinet minister Michael Portillo was invited by members of another cabinet to a budget meeting, but well outside Downing Street.

He turned up in London’s East End for one of Tower Hamlets council’s public budget debate’ meetings giving residents a say on what projects they want funded in their neighbourhoods.

The former Tory frontbench MP, who was in Margaret Thatcher’s Government for 11 years in three Cabinet posts including Defence Secretary, is more a TV star these days with Hackney Labour MP Dianne Abbott in their Thursday night slot on BBC2’s This Week with Andrew Neil.

Portillo turned up with a BBC crew for the council’s You Decide’ budget meeting at the Lifra Hall in Stepney for his Power to the People documentary being shown next month.

He watched the voting on the modest budget of £275,000 council tax for projects in Stepney and Whitechapel including a pensioners’ community bus, park improvements and promoting kids’ healthy diets.

The Labour-run authority’s leader, Lutfur Rahman, who chair’s the borough’s own ruling cabinet, said later: “The room was full to capacity. I’m overwhelmed that so many people have taken time out to make decisions for their community.”

The next You Decide’ event, for the record, is 6pm February 23 at George Green’s School in the Isle of Dogs, for householders in Millwall, Blackwall and Cubitt Town. Details on 0800-035 1395, or text YD’ followed by your postcode to 60060.

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