St. Patrick’s Day the One Tower Hamlets Way

St. Patrick’s Day. Three words that mean fun, laughter, Guinness, anything and everything coloured green and a general excuse for everyone to have a good time. Oh and Guinness.

Apart from Tower Hamlets. Where according to the Council you can only enjoy St. Patrick’s Day if you are Irish. And no exceptions.

Well known community campaigner Toni Davey discovered this odd state of affairs when she contacted the Council for tickets to the St Patrick’s Day Event  being held at the York Hall Centre in Bethnal Green.

Toni is the Secretary of the Glamis Residents Association and co-organiser of the Friday Pensioners Club.

She sent an email and asked if she could get some tickets for her pensioners and carers please?

This is the reply Toni received:

“Please note this is an event for the Irish community in Tower Hamlets, if this is appropriate please contact the Irish Pensioners Forum or the Irish Elderly Advice Network to see if they have any tickets remaining.”

Or ‘no you can’t have any tickets’ in plain English.

Now as Thames Water can testify you don’t mess with Toni. Normally sweet and demure she is not the sort of person you want to wind up.

Too late.

Toni emailed  Mayor Lutfur and Cllr. Rabina Khan to tell them what she thought of this. (Readers of a nervous disposition should look away now.)

“Dear Mayor and Cllr. Khan,

I write with surprise and disappointment about the arrangements for your St Patrick’s day event to be held at York Hall.

As secretary of the Glamis Residents’ Association and co-organiser of the Friday Pensioners’ Club in Glamis hall, I enquired to Tower Hamlets about getting tickets to this event for our pensioners. I was asked to email Ruth Alabi to apply for the tickets.

After nearly a week of no response, I again telephoned and this time spoke to Jenny Dutton. I was shocked to be told that as this was a St Patrick’s day event, it was predominately for the Irish community and that priority would be given to them, or any associations with Irish links.

I know of other organisations that have been given tickets to this event, and I would not particularly consider them to be Irish in orientation.  I was told that I could definitely have tickets for any Irish members, but whilst we do have Irish pensioners attend our group, we also have Jamaican, Asian, Bajan, English and Scottish – was I to discriminate against them? We run an annual St George’s day event at Glamis Hall, but this is open to EVERYONE, no matter their birthplace or background, as it should be!

As volunteers at our Friday Pensioners’ Club, we work hard to include everyone and make it accessible for the whole community, and as ‘One Tower Hamlets’ is preached as our Borough’s ethos, I would expect you to do the same. This situation should not be arising in this day and age, and I have been deeply embarrassed at having to tell my pensioners that they do not qualify for this event due to their nationality.

With regret

Toni Davey

Secretary Glamis Residents’ Association

Co-Organiser Glamis Friday Club”

Quick! Back peddle and no one will notice!

It wasn’t long after sending the email above that there was a 180 degree turn round by the Council and, by some miracle (probably down to the Patron Saint of Hidden Tickets) Toni’s pensioners could come to the St. Patrick’s Day bash after all!

“Hi Toni

Following on from our phone call this morning, it was nice to talk to you and reassure you that your pensioners are welcome to the St Patrick’s Day event. I just wanted to reiterate if you would like me to put 25 tickets in the post to you please let me know.

King Regards,


Make’s you feel a little queasy doesn’t it?

“Hi Ruth,

Your email made it clear which section of the community this event was aimed at, as did my conversation with Jenny Dutton. It seems that you can now only offer us tickets after my complaint.

We will not be attending as a group due to our distaste at the way things were originally handled, but if any of our pensioners wish to attend individually, tickets are easily available from people who have been given the privilege of handing them out to their friends and neighbours.

Toni Davey”

Nice One Tower Hamlets

And there you have it. One Tower Hamlets in action. I wonder if that slogan was stolen from the back of a cereal packet and adopted by the Council without any idea what it means? Quite likely.

It does take some skill to screw up St. Patrick’s Day. Top marks to Tower Hamlets Council for succeeding. And all done so effortlessly.

The real kicker is that one of Toni’s pensioners was given 10 tickets to the St. Patrick’s Day event by a friend who had been told to give them out to friends and neighbours.

And even better – apparently there will be a Polish band playing at the York Hall event.

This year St. Patrick’s Day falls on March 17th but the main central London public celebrations will be on March 16th.

And of course everyone is welcome to attend. Because it’s St. Patrick’s Day.

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