Revealed: Free gifts given to councillors in Tower Hamlets
PUBLISHED: 14:10 07 November 2018
Councillors in Tower Hamlets are being warned that they must declare free gifts given to them amid concerns raised by a standards committee.
John Pulford MBE, chairman of the borough’s Standard’s Advisory Committee, said he suspected councillors “were not declaring properly” after just 14 out of 45 registered receiving gifts and hospitality between October 2017 and September 2018.
Tower Hamlets councillors must declare anything they accept worth more than £25.
Registered gifts received by councillors includes three Rolling Stones tickets – worth £990 and two free invites to watch the English National Ballet’s performance of Swan Lake at Markova House in Kensington, worth £138, both were given to Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs.
Mr Biggs and councillors James King, Amina Ali, Eve McQuillan, Kevin Brady and Dipa Das also declared going to watch American rockers LCD Soundsystem and Indie pop band The XX.
Other gifts Mr Biggs accepted included a bottle of £75 Bollinger champagne from the Chinese Government, which he donated to charity.
In total, Tower Hamlets councillors got 11 VIP tickets – worth £820- to the first All Points East festival in Victoria Park in May.
Mr Biggs said: “I went to the Rolling Stones because I’ve been involved with the Olympic Stadium for over a decade.
“Councillors went to All Points East because it was the first year in Victoria Park and we need to see how well these things are run.
“Councillors absolutely have to declare what they receive and if they don’t it is potentially a criminal offence.”
Conservative councillors Andrew Wood and Peter Golds both attended catered events put on by Canary Wharf Group.
Mr Biggs said councillors often get invited to events and dinners by companies who work closely with the local authority and it allows members to see “how well events are run”.
He said: “I know how these things work and I would’ve thought there should be more things on this list.
“If you get invited to any catered event that is likely to be at least £25-worth of hospitality.
“I know that councillors, those sitting on the planning committee especially, get invited to these things.
“I think we need to remind members because it seems some things might not be declared properly.”