‘Greenbankgate’ – the Emergency Motion that caused all the fuss

Below is the text of the Emergency Motion that was proposed and passed at a meeting of London Borough of Tower Hamlets Council on Wednesday 27th November 2013.

Emergency motion – Canvassing allegations and use of Council resources

Proposer: Cllr. Rachael Saunders

Seconder: Cllr. Helal Abbas

This Council notes:

–       The article on the LoveWapping website entitled “Tower Hamlets Homes ‘staff’ canvassing for Mayor Lutfur in Wapping” which includes allegations that people purporting to be from Tower Hamlets Homes were undertaking electoral canvassing for the current Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman.

–       That were the allegations true this would be a significant abuse of tax payer resources and would greatly undermine the integrity of Tower Hamlets Homes staff.

–       That were these people not Tower Hamlets Homes staff, and were instead impersonating them, this would constitute an offence of obtaining information by deception as well as being tantamount to electoral fraud and misrepresentation.

–       In response to the allegations Tower Hamlets Homes issued a statement on their website reading:

We have had reports that people claiming to be Tower Hamlets Homes staff are knocking on doors, particularly in the Wapping area.  All THH staff carry ID cards.”

–       Tower Hamlets Homes has initiated investigations into the allegations.

This Council believes:

–       That the Mayor should cooperate fully with the THH investigation and that neither he or any parties acting on his behalf should exert any influence on those involved.

–       The Mayor should make a statement on the issue confirming whether or not these people are part of or associated with his re-election team, and if not, how and why they are promoting his work and distributing campaign materials.

–       The Monitoring Officer, Returning Officer and Head of Paid Service should work with THH and the police to fully investigate this matter to ensure that residents can have faith that those undertaking political campaigning are following the rules as set out by the Electoral Commission.

This Council Further notes:

–       In the 2011Budget the Mayor put forward proposals to cut support to democratic services by £323,000 and that this was partly funded by the banning of acknowledgement letters for members enquiries apart from in exceptional circumstances.

–       A recent Freedom of Information response which revealed that whilst only 9 acknowledgement letters had been sent from opposition councillors this financial year, 4322 have been sent by the Mayor and independent councillors at a cost of £2,221 and over a week of officer time.

This Council further believes:

–       The Mayor introduced new rules banning acknowledgement letters which were purposely applied to opposition councillors but not to his own office and supporters.

–       The Mayor’s office categorically failed to ensure that staff working were following the correct procedures and that this has led to £2,221 of tax payer’s money being wasted and over a week of Council officers time and resources being unfairly used for political gain.

–       Unsolicited letters to residents should not be funded by Council resources – they are political direct mails and will be costing the tax payer thousands of pounds in postage. 

This Council resolves:

–       To instruct the Head of Paid Service to undertake a full investigation into why acknowledgement letters continued to be issued from the Mayor’s office despite the new policy as set out in the Budget agreed by Council in 2011, and to take appropriate disciplinary action.

–       To instruct the Monitoring Officer, Returning Officer and Head of Paid Service to work with THH and the police to fully investigate the concerns that THH staff may be using their position for electoral canvassing, or that they or members of Council staff are being impersonated for this purpose.

–       To call upon the Mayor and independent Councillors to cooperate fully with these investigations.

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