Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman on why he is so excited about the new Unite community centre


- Credit: Rehan Jamil

I was delighted to take part in the opening of a truly ground-breaking venture that has brought together Tower Hamlets Council with Britain’s largest union, Unite and one of our borough’s important employers, Barclays Bank.

The opening ceremony of this, the first new community centre of its type, took place earlier this month and in the historic environs of St George’s Town Hall, Cable Street, where East Enders came together to show Oswald Mosley and his Blackshirts the back-door in 1936.

This is no ordinary centre, because it will provide new training, job seeking skills and welfare advice as well as a state-of-the-art ICT Learning Suite.

It is no ordinary venture because for the first time it brings us, the local authority, the union and the employer together in our shared goals.

It is the sort of venture that chimes in well with Ed Miliband’s idea of “One Nation” Britain, as well as demonstrating the vital importance of working with the trade unions to rebuild this country’s productive, wealth creating economy.

That the rebuilding process will begin here in Tower Hamlets is very much down to the excellent relations we have formed with the Unite trade union. Whereas 30 years ago, tens of thousands worked in the docks, today many now work in the financial services industry. They are mostly represented by Unite.

But, as the general secretary of Unite, Len McCluskey said at the opening ceremony; “Alongside the wealth of this global finance centre is great poverty – which is why this centre is needed and why our partnership with the Mayor of Tower Hamlets and Barclays bank will provide a vital resource to the local community’.

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Job creation

Job creation is and always has been one of my top priorities and I believe that the new community centre will better equip many of our young people, who are already outperforming many of their colleagues in schools elsewhere in London, to move into the changing labour market.

When they do and as their success continues, I hope they will remember that being part of a union is every bit as important as being part of the community.

Unite community centre can be contacted on 0203 435 6182 or by email