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Seeking out Town Hall 'diversity'

PUBLISHED: 15:04 30 May 2008 | UPDATED: 13:20 05 October 2010

Did they have to pull dow Old Bonner? See postscript

Did they have to pull dow Old Bonner? See postscript

LAST year the Advertiser raised questions about whether it was appropriate for the Town Hall to award a contract aimed at recruiting more Bengali and Somali managers to a consultancy group headed by a former Labour councillor. we asked why lutfur Ali was being quoted on his company’s website boasting about having won the contract when no decision had actually been taken

Ted Jeory puts East End politicians in the dock

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Ted Jeory

IN JANUARY last year, the East London Advertiser raised questions about whether it was appropriate for the Town Hall to award a contract aimed at recruiting more Bengali and Somali managers to a consultancy group headed by a former Labour councillor.

Indeed, we asked why Lutfur Ali, then a director of Tribal Group, was being quoted on his company's website boasting about having won the contract when no decision had actually been taken.

At the time, Mr Ali, who was forced to resign as a councillor a couple of days after being elected in 2002 because he and others suddenly realised his job at the time in the London Fire Brigade was politically restricted, was in the race to become Labour's Parliamentary candidate for Bethnal Green & Bow.

A few days after our questions, Tower Hamlets council issued the following statement: "Tribal have written to the council to say they have decided to withdraw their tender to avoid any perception of a conflict of interests in respect of their director, Lutfur Ali."

Mr Ali, whose extremely successful career has been based on his expertise in 'diversity and qualities' and who has also led Government-backed Muslim delegations abroad, has since moved to be a partner in Waterhouse Consulting as a paid adviser in that field.

However, it now seems he's also the frontrunner for the number two position at Tower Hamlets council where he has, I understand, made the shortlist for Sara Williams' old job as assistant chief executive.

Also on that list is the current incumbent Michael Keating, another former Tower Hamlets Labour councillor.

How very diverse!

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PRESS RELEASE DOESN'T TELL US WHAT WAS SAID

WHETHER Luftur Ali would have been a supporter of the kind of Pravda-esque press release Tower Hamlets council sent us this week is open to question.

The press release announced that a 'staff debate' had taken place two weeks before to mark International Day Against Homophobia.

While quite rightly patting itself on the back for how progressive it had been in organising such an event involving church leaders and Muslim scholars, what the council failed to mention was what was actually said and that the press had not been invited.

We asked for more details. The council's press office got a bit shirty, failing to realise that readers would be as interested, if not more, in the content of the debate than the fact it had taken place.

After a bit of prodding, a press officer revealed that while The Rev Alan Green, chair of the Tower Hamlets Interfaith Forum, spoke about divisions within the Church of England on the issue, he himself believed the scriptures need to be read in the context of the modern age.

Meanwhile, Dr Jasser Auda, director of the Al-Maqsaid Research Centre in the Philosophy of Islam, apparently talked about the need for tolerance, that sin needed to be differentiated from crime, and that sexual activities outside the traditional family are a sin.

What questions or comments were raised from the floor, we've not been told.

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P.S. ON OLD BONNER

Here's a thought... in 2006, Tower Hamlets council demolished 'Old' Bonner School in Bethnal Green to make way for a playground.

This was in the face of massive protests to preserve it because it was still useful space.

Two years on, the council wants to kick out adult students from the Bethnal Green Centre to make way for pupils from Bethnal Green Technology College, where classrooms are being refurbished.

Could the pupils have studied at Old Bonner? Probably, yes.

It doesn't take a genius to see how preserving our East End heritage would have had some other benefits too.

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ted.jeory@archant.co.uk


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