A leaflet distributed at the Boishakhi Mela in Victoria Park on Sunday 17th May 2015 (below) is dominated by a photograph of ex-Mayor Lutfur Rahman and the Tower Hamlets Council logo. Photo below.
The Mela, which attracts 500,000 people and celebrates the Bangladeshi New Year, is the East End’s most prestigious festival.
As reassuring as it is to know that the ex-Mayor is ‘fallen but not broken’ it is, in the light of the odd canvassing activity over the weekend in Wapping, puzzling as to how the ex-Mayor can be using a Mela publication at least part funded by Tower Hamlets Council to make us aware of this fact.
(LW would be very grateful for a translation of the wording on the front cover.)
The Mela is organised by the Boishakhi Mela Community Trust and has a certain amount of linkage with our dear but not quite departed ex-Mayor. Hop over to Ted Jeory’s blog for background information on the Mela.
Legal Services Letter
David Galpin, Service Head Legal Services at Tower Hamlets Council wrote to the Boishakhi Mela Community Trust on 15th May 2015 regarding restrictions on political activity.
Here are some extracts from the letter:
“There are two elections scheduled in Tower Hamlets for 11 June 2015, a mayoral election and an election for a councillor for the Ward of Stepney. We are currently in the pre-election period for those elections and the Council is subject to a number of constraints. In particular, the Council must not promote support for a particular political party.
Our experience from past Mela events is that there have been instances of politicians being given the opportunity to go on stage and make speeches….
I wish to underscore the seriousness with which the Council views this matter. Clause 30 of the concession contract, dated 26 April 2012, between the Council and the Boishakhi Mela Community Trust Limited (the Concession Contract), deals with the prevention of corruption. The Trust is prevented from “showing or forbearing to show favour or disfavour to any person in relation to the Agreement”. The Council considers that any attempt by the Trust to provide support for a political party or a candidate in the election would place the Trust in breach of this contractual obligation….
The Council further takes the view that such a breach of the concession contract by the Trust would not be capable of remedy. “
So that’s all fairly clear then. Especially ‘The Council further takes the view that such a breach of the concession contract by the Trust would not be capable of remedy. ‘
Image of full text of letter at bottom of page:
The Council had officers at the event apparently so we can safely assume – can’t we? – that they have a copy of this leaflet and don’t just take it home and frame it.
Another election petition
Cllr. Peter Golds, Conservative Party candidate for directly elected Mayor in the election re-run, has written to Stephen Halsey, Head of Paid Service at the Council.
In this letter (see bottom of page for edited version) Cllr. Golds raises several issues regarding the Mela. Some of these have existed for years, other arise from a Commissioners Decision Meeting – would love to go to those!
At this meeting a report concerning additional grants to the Melah was rejected and other issues such as the commercialisation of the Mela and lack of audit were raised. Cllr. Golds also raises the possibility that Shiraj Haque, main backer of the ex-Mayor, would use it as ‘a political rally to promote a favoured candidate’.
The most interesting paragraph of Cllr. Gold’s letter is the third from last:
“If Shiraj Haque allows the event on Sunday to become a campaign event for his chosen candidate for June 11th, then the council, who have contracted out the venue, may well be involved in yet another lengthy election petition.”
Election petition? Sounds familiar. Probably because this seems to be the only way to get the job done in Tower Hamlets.
The Tower Hamlets Council branded leaflets raises several issues.
1. Party political message
It seems to have been used to publish a party political message by the ex-Mayor. This, even for Tower Hamlets, is odd as the ex-Mayor has been banned from standing for political office. So who is he campaigning for? Tower Hamlets First? Odd again as this is no longer a political party, if indeed it ever was one in the first place. Could it be the ex-Mayors candidate Rabina Khan?
2. Council funding
The Mela is contracted out by the Council to the Boishakhi Mela Community Trust. The issues surrounding this are being addressed by Cllr. Golds.
The Mela also seems to have been hijacked as a party political vehicle by Tower Hamlets First.
The Boishakhi Mela is a fundamentally important event to our community. It’s integrity and future from political interference from any political party needs to be guaranteed. Its importance is such that it should be subsidised and managed directly by an honest Tower Hamlets Council.
Legal Services Letter to Boishakhi Mela Community Trust
Letter from Cllr. Peter Golds to Head of Paid Service, Tower Hamlets