Shocked councillors rally to beleaguered Town Hall chief

OPPOSITION councillors have been coming out in support in East London tonight behind Town Hall chief executive Martin Smith whose future is in doubt. It follows a meeting at last night’s executive advisory board of top Labour council cabinet members and senior officers

By Else Kvist

OPPOSITION councillors have been coming out in support in East London tonight behind Town Hall chief executive Martin Smith whose future is in doubt.

Tory group leader Peter Golds is demanding an emergency Tower Hamlets council meeting after telling the East London Advertiser: “Martin had been told by the Labour leader to consider his future.”

It follows a meeting at last night’s executive advisory board of top Labour council cabinet members and senior officers.

NO EXPLANATION


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Councillors are still waiting for an official explanation after rumours about Mr Smith clashing with council leader Lutfur Rahman swept through the Town Hall.

The row has posed a dilemma for the authority as Martin is the borough’s official Election Returning Officer who is due to oversee Sunday’s Euro count for Tower Hamlets.

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He was still fulfilling his duties when touring polling stations in the East End during today’s voting, it is understood.

Deputy Tory group leader Tim Archer said tonight: “There are lots of rumours flying around, but no-one seems to know exactly what’s happening.

“Martin has been chief executive for less than two years and my understanding is that he was head and shoulders above the competition for the job.”

FOUR STAR

Mr Smith, widely respected in local government circles, was responsible for Tower Hamlets being awarded four-star status by Government assessors when he was previously Financial Director, putting the council in the top tier of Britain’s local authorities.

The leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the council, Stephanie Eaton, was worried about no official explanation from the Labour administration.

“Martin is an excellent chief executive who has worked tirelessly for Tower Hamlets,” she said.

“To say we have had information is too strong. We have only heard it in the way of rumours.”

Lutfur Rahman has not been available to comment today. His office said no statement was being issued.

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