An unknown quantity of Blue Badge parking permit applications have been shredded by a Tower Hamlets Council parking development officer. Emails relating to the applications have been deleted and a document introducing a change of parking policy has vanished.
Blue Badge permits are for cars carrying people who are registered blind or who have severe walking disabilities to allow them to park nearer to shops and other facilities.
Councillor Mark Francis (Labour, Bow East) highlighted the issue in a Supplementary Question at a Tower Hamlets Council meeting on 19 September 2018.
You can read the meeting minutes here, 9.10 Supplementary Question from Cllr Francis is on page 22.
Sabotaging Council policy
The motive for the destruction of the Blue Badge applications seems to be an attempt by an individual Council officer to sabotage a policy change that she or he disagreed with.
In 2014 the former Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, changed the eligibility requirements for Blue Badges in an attempt to deliver on his promise to deliver an extra 1000 parking bays for residents.
Early in 2018, the current administration set aside Lutfur Rahman’s parking criteria changes.
Numerous residents re-applied for their Blue Badges – with no result. It is not clear if any new applications have been destroyed.
One resident LW spoke to said that he had applied for a Blue Badge permit in 2016 – and had not heard anything since.
Project initiation document vanishes
It now seems that the unnamed parking development officer disagreed with the 2018 decision to Council policy and so shredded all of the applications that residents submitted and deleted all related emails. The project initiation document introducing the change of policy also disappeared.
It is not known how long it has taken the current Labour administration to realise that the Blue Badge application system had been sabotaged.
Tower Hamlets Council has been approached for comment.
First off five gold stars to Cllr. Marc Francis for spotting the latest event in the continuing saga that is Tower Hamlets local government. It’s good to see a councillor doing what they were elected to do.
LW has asked the Council the following questions:
- When did this shredding take place?
- The number of Blue Badge permit applications shredded?
- When the emails were deleted?
- How many emails were deleted?
- When was this discovered?
- What steps have been taken to contact people whose applications have been destroyed and so reinstate their applications?
- Has the parking development officer been subject to disciplinary action? If so what was the result?
When (if) we get a response we will update the story.
Apart from the specific questions about the shredding of Blue Badge applications, this sad tale raises a bigger issue.
What culture exists in the Town Hall that a council officer should think that they can destroy residents permit applications and get away with it?
On many occasions residents have been told by Mayor Biggs that there has been a cultural change in the Council since the departure of Mayor Rahman. This event would seem to go against this claim.
As with many stories of alleged wrongdoing in Mulberry Place not all the facts of the matter are currently known but hopefully they will now be made public.
How many other cases are there of Council officers disrupting the administration of Tower Hamlets which have yet to be detected?