Mayor's priorities Government cuts and changes to the welfare
system have had severe consequences for residents in Tower Hamlets.
But, despite the strain that all councils are under of having to
deliver more with less, Tower Hamlets continues to push the
boundaries of what a local government can achieve for its
Below are my priorities for my second term in office. They are
focused on addressing the issues and challenges that residents of
Tower Hamlets have told me matter the most to them.
Housing remains one of my top priorities. Whilst we made much
progress in my first term on housing, I am conscious of the further
changes that are needed to ensure everyone in Tower Hamlets has a
decent standard of living.
There are still so many families who are living in overcrowded
accommodation. This is not only unacceptable, but detrimental to
resident’s health and children’s education. In my first term, 4,000
new affordable homes were built – the most in the country - and
this year I pledge to build another 5,500 affordable homes.
It is all too often that renters feel at the mercy of their
landlords, and I want to ensure that Private Sector landlords are
fair. That is why I have pledged to create a Landlord Registration
Scheme to enable residents to hold their landlords to account in
the Private Rent Sector.
Our schools have been named amongst the best urban schools in
the world due to the commitment in Tower Hamlets to young people
and their learning.
I believe that children cannot learn effectively if they are
hungry. This is why I have pledged to provide Free School Meals for
all children in primary schools to ensure that every child receives
a healthy, nutritious meal at school every day.
I am also aware that as students get older, constraints such as
travel fees and lunch money sometimes holds them back. I don’t want
poverty to be a reason why young people can’t get to school in this
borough, which is why I introduced the Mayor’s Education Award
(MEA) in 2010 to replace the Education Maintenance Allowance cut by
the Coalition government. The Award gives struggling sixth form
students an additional £400 a year towards their sixth form and
college costs. For students moving on to University, I created the
Mayor’s Higher Education Award, which gives additional financial
support of up to £1,500 to 400 university students every year.
These schemes have proven a huge help to those who are ambitious
but struggle financially, and it is my commitment to uphold them
throughout my next four years in office.
Jobs and economy
I am committed to getting local people into work and I will be
creating a new employment hub which will help 20,000 local people
into work, 8,000 new apprenticeships and deliver training for
14,000 residents. The Whitechapel Vision regeneration plan will be
providing 5,000 jobs and an additional 3,500 affordable new homes.
Our vision for Whitechapel has the chance to turn Tower Hamlets
into one of London’s new commercial hubs, and is a great
opportunity for our residents. I will also be supporting new local
businesses, by ensuring that 50 per cent of council contracts
spending is with local businesses.
Cost of living
Cost of Living Welfare reform, unemployment, high inflation and
the stagnation in wages have meant that the cost of living for
residents has been increasing. I have made it a priority of mine to
help residents with their living costs.
My administration has already created a £2.2m Preventing
Homelessness Fund to help those affected by the housing benefit
cap. I will ensure that that specialist support and advice is
available for residents who are affected by the welfare changes. I
will also continue to provide Council Tax benefit to the poorest
We will continue to help our residents with their energy bills
through Tower Hamlets Energy which has helped save over £100 for
residents in my first term.
I know that crime and the fear of crime is a concern for our
residents. In my first term I introduced Tower Hamlets Enforcement
Officers (THEOs) and our Partnership Police Force to ensure
residents are kept safe. This partnership work has helped reduce
crime in the borough and has provided a visible presence in the
community when London wide police officers are being cut. Our THEOs
have been a great success with residents, establishing rapport and
providing a sense of security for many communities. In the next
term, we will be continuing our good work with THEOs and making
sure that they are available in particular relation to ASB
complaints and concerns.
Our “Dealer-a-day” strategy has exceeded its targets with over
1,230 drug dealers arrested last year and £187,384 of drugs seized.
I want to step that up, as well as improving partnership with the
police to tackle organised crime like drugs and prostitution.
I have also pledged to introduce a Mobile Police Centre, to
replace police stations being cut by the Mayor of London and to
make it easier for residents to report crime. I also invested over
£2m in delivering the Violence against Women and Girls Strategy and
supporting victims of domestic abuse. I promise to keep the focus
on improving prevention, education, reporting and victim support so
that women and girls do not live in fear.
I want us to continue our work to achieve a clean borough. We
have made significant steps by work together. Our recycling rates
have increased from 19 per cent to 26.5 per cent, a successful bid
for funding means Victoria Park will benefit from an investment of
£4.55m. I want to ensure our streets, parks and open spaces are
clean and tidy so that people can take pride in the area where they
Caring for the elderly
Tower Hamlets remains the only borough to provide free homecare
for the elderly, and I will continue to ensure that homecare
remains free in this borough.
I am also aware of the issue of loneliness and isolation amongst
the older residents in our borough. I have pledged to continue to
work on tackling this issue, particularly through my commitment to
lunch clubs. Lunch clubs provide a vital service for our older
residents, not just providing a hot meal but also a place to
socialise and access support services. I have also committed to
four tea dances a year so that older people have the opportunity to
meet up every once in a while to have a good time.
We also understand that elderly residents want to stay in their
homes as long as possible; I will help residents get the care they
need on their own terms, I’ll increase investment in reablement and
our telecare service.