Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman supported the council staff and teachers strike action
- Credit: Archant
Last week many of our council and teaching staff took park in national strike action against the pay freezes imposed by the government. I supported them in that action. Low pay is driving more and more people into financial distress. It may surprise readers to know the majority of those in receipt of benefits are now from working families due to low wages, part-time working and rising living standards. Everybody deserves a decent wage. I was proud that Tower Hamlets was one of the first London councils to introduce the London Living Wage, some five years ago, to support some of our lowest paid staff.
Our teachers, parents and pupils deserve special praise for the great advances we are making in education in the borough. Tower Hamlets is now in the top ten boroughs nationally for the highest proportion of students who go to university. For a deprived London borough, this is a great achievement. As Mayor one of my priorities is ensuring a level playing field so that poverty is no barrier to young people achieving their dreams and realising their true potential.
We also need to help those young people not in education, employment or training get a foot on the career ladder. I was pleased that so many young people attended the recent MyFuture event in Mile End organised by our youth service. They met employers and learnt about jobs, apprenticeships and courses.
The ambitious £36 million scheme to develop Poplar Baths and Dame Colet House took another important step forward last week. The project will result in residents getting a new leisure centre, sports hall, café and other leisure facilities as well as 60 more new homes. I am looking forward to seeing the Grade II listed building and former swimming pool restored to its former glory.
It was an amazing spectacle to see all the great cyclists taking part in the Tour de France ride through our borough. The cheering crowds lining the roads brought back memories of the Olympics. I hope the sight of these superb athletes will inspire local people to take up a sport, do more exercise and live healthier lives – and enjoy it too.