When the Cabinet rolled over

PUBLISHED: 10:47 20 May 2008 | UPDATED: 13:18 05 October 2010

Shiraj leads the Mela celebration (2nd story)

Shiraj leads the Mela celebration (2nd story)

Carmen Valino

WHO governs Tower Hamlets?’ as Edward Heath might once have asked. Well, if anyone genuinely thought it was the Town Hall’s three-day week beautiful people’, think again. At the May 8 cabinet meeting, one of the council’s former fat cat directors let the, er, cat out of the bag

Ted Jeory puts East End politicians in the dock

'WHO governs Tower Hamlets?' as Edward Heath might once have asked. Well, if anyone genuinely thought it was the Town Hall's three-day week 'beautiful people', think again.

At the May 8 cabinet meeting, one of the council's former fat cat directors let the, er, cat out of the bag.

With all the cocksure demeanour of a former head pupil returning to lecture next year's sixthform on how mad and bad the big wide world is out there, Emma Peters, who until three weeks ago when she quit to take up a far more important job in Whitehall ran Tower Hamlets council's regeneration department, appeared before her old chums to highlight the importance of her other pals, Canary Wharf.

Up for consideration by councillors were proposals to invoke rarely used Compulsory Purchase Order powers to evict long-standing tenants from a huge plot of land at Heron Quays.

Although the council uses one of the existing offices as a 'job training' centre, it doesn't own any of the land. That honour belongs to Canary Wharf Group, which now wants to plonk a Lord Richard Rodgers development there instead.

But because Canary Wharf had problems 'persuading' pesky tenants who had the audacity to sign long leases and secure their businesses many years ago to leave, it asked the council it to draw up a CPO as a nice favour instead.

Let's repeat this: a private company has asked a public authority to intervene in a private, commercial dispute.

So, what did the cabinet do? You guessed. It rolled over.

Why? Here's what Emma Peters said as she implored councillors to complete the deal she had so carefully nurtured: "We want to use the CPOs to show how important Canary Wharf is to the borough.

"Canary Wharf really is a powerhouse for the whole of the Thames Gateway.

"This has been impressed on me in the first day and a half of my new job.

"It's also the real driver for the whole of London's economy."

New jobs aplenty for East Enders have also been promised, as has a £5 million Section 106 sweetener to Tower Hamlets council. Like their rivals, the Corporation of London to the west, it seems Canary Wharf is rapidly taking on 'city state' status.



ONE more powerhouse of Tower Hamlets politics is another businessman, Shiraj Haque, the personable owner of the Clifton restaurant group in Brick Lane.

Last week's dun-drenched Baishakhi Mela celebration in Bethnal Green was a personal triumph for him after Tower Hamlets council severed relations with his organising outfit late last year.

Not only did the huge crowds lap up his words, but a string of willing politicians also lined up on stage to praise his wonderful event.

They did not include outgoing council leader Denise Jones who he barred from speaking in revenge for the Town Hall's dithering over licensing matters.

But they did include his favourite protégé, Shiria Khatun, as well as Stephanie Eaton, Ahmed Hussain (who cried "Vote Conservative" from the stage), and Deputy London Mayor Richard Barnes, who filled in for an otherwise engaged Boris Johnson. But the loudest cheers went to the Town Hall's Tory Opposition group leader Peter Golds, who by the way he worked the crowd with his "I can't hear you, cheer louder" routine obviously missed a vocation as a zany Butlin's Redcoat.


THERE was a period last year when you'd only have to switch on the TV to see Oona King chatting away on this and that.

But all that changed in October when she became an adviser to Gordon Brown in Downing Street.

Being away from frontline politics and enjoying motherhood has clearly done her the power of good.

I bumped into her in Vicky Park on Saturday and she didn't seem to have a care in the world.

Unlike her boss, whose poll ratings plummeted pretty much the day Oona took up her new job in fact.

Still, she likes to laugh about it. "God, they probably think it's all my fault," she joked.


Ted Jeory

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