Cuts? What cuts? As Tower Hamlets faces the reality of 5% budget cuts that will cripple essential services Mayor Rahman still believes he needs £350,000 for Mayoral advisors.
Flexible advice needed for 2015
Page 80 of the budget proposals on the agenda for the Tower Hamlets council Cabinet meeting on 7th January (see below) has a request for £350,000 for the 2015/16 year for ‘Mayor’s Advisors’ because “the Mayor and Cabinet members require expert and flexible advice in the areas of equalities, community engagement and media.”.
Many East Enders could give the Mayor some advice for free.
None of it is printable. Here’s the page in question.
Looking back at 2014 it is reasonable to consider how effective the Mayor’s advisors have been so far.
2014 was a complete disaster for the Mayor and his Cabinet. More importantly the name of our great borough has been dragged into the gutter. Here are some lowlights:
- It took six days to count the votes in the 2014 local elections. Six. Days.
- A damning report by PwC led to key functions of the council being put under direct central Government control.
- The next elections in the borough are likely to be held in the ExCel Centre or even completely outside Tower Hamlets for reasons of security.
- In February 2015 the High Court will hear a petition that claims that the 2014 Mayoral elections were invalid because of alleged intimidation and voting fraud.
- The Metropolitan Police are still immersed in numerous investigations relating to the Council.
And there might even be all sorts of other investigations going on that we are currently unaware of.
Risks and implications
So what is the justification for spending £350,000 on Mayoral advisors? Each council budget item requires justification and an explanation of what might happen if the money is not spent as requested.
Here are the ‘Risks and Implications’ for the £350,000.
“The quality of engagement with residents will be compromised without the specialist and flexible advice provided by the Mayor’s advisors.”
Say what? ‘Quality of engagement?’ What engagement? ‘Specialist and flexible advice’? Sounds like plain and simple bullshit.
The nature and reason for payments to Mayor Lutfur’s advisors have been the subject of considerable interest for some time.
The Evening Standard and Trial by Jeory have done some outstanding work into this. You can read Ted Jeory’s work here:
Love Wapping undertook some further analysis of Ted Jeory’s work.
Value for money
To test resident’s sense of humour to the limit the budget proposal document also requires a statement of how the expenditure will offer ‘value for money’.
“The advisors will be procured through the Councils procurement process which will ensure appropriate value for money considerations are taken into account.”
Good to see someone in Tower Hamlets First has a sense of humour!
If it ain’t broke…
The irony of the situation is that Mayor Lutfur has stated that having to make cuts to frontline services will break him:
“It’ll break me as an individual, a politician and a resident the day I have to make cuts to our frontline services.” (The Guardian, 22 January 2013)
No one would want to see our Mayor ‘broken’ so best he bins his advisors and puts that £350,000 of residents money where his mouth is.
That would be the decent thing to do – so it isn’t going to happen.
Probably much better if Mr. Pickles does what all decent residents know needs to be done. Complete direct control of Tower Hamlets Council.