Tower Hamlets mayor still using £42,000 a year car after pledge to scrap it
PUBLISHED: 13:00 06 February 2014 | UPDATED: 13:18 06 February 2014
EXCLUSIVE: Plans by the mayor of Tower Hamlets to scrap his taxpayer-funded car will not come into effect until April, the Advertiser can reveal.
Mayor Lutfur Rahman pledged last week to stop using his £42,000-a-year chauffeur-driven car in the run-up to the mayoral election in May.
However, a spokesman for the mayor confirmed the car would still be in use up to April 14 – nearly three months after the initial claim that he would scrap it.
He said: “The official campaign period begins on April 14 and the car will not be used from then.
“Increasingly as the election approaches, the mayor will have to combine official duties with campaign-related meetings, and it is inappropriate to use the official mayoral car during the campaign, so he will use other transport as necessary.”
The spokesman added that “there are no plans to bring back the car after the election” if the mayor is re-elected, suggesting the car – estimated to have cost taxpayers as much as £100,000 – could be scrapped for good.
Cllr Sirajul Islam, leader of the Labour group, called the mayor’s actions a “disingenuous election stunt”.
He said: “If he had any integrity he’d permanently scrap his taxpayer-funded chauffeured Mercedes and admit it is a total waste of money.”
Labour candidate John Biggs has promised to scrap the car if he is elected.
Mr Rahman said in his original statement on January 25: “Although I will continue to work hard and deliver for the people of Tower Hamlets up to May 22 and beyond, I will naturally be attending more political meetings in the next few months. “In order to ensure that the highest standards of probity and transparency are maintained, I will no longer be making use of the official car and I hope that the Labour speaker of the council will follow my example.”
Labour said speaker Cllr Lesley Pavitt was politically impartial and needed her car to transport the council’s ceremonial chains of office, worth thousands of pounds.