Council statement - issued pre broadcast March 31, 2014

Ahead of a Panorama programme to be broadcast on March 31, 2014, the council has issued the following statement:

“We cannot comment on specific allegations before the programme has aired.

However, we have been told broadly that the programme will cover publicity, governance and accountability, faith in politics, as well as the administration of the Mainstream Grants programme.

The council has a rigorous approach to grant giving, with a clear minimum eligibility criteria. We have always maintained the appropriate processes. The council is unable to comment on political matters but we are able to comment on matters of factual accuracy, governance, the implementation of policies and delivery of services.

Councils are complex organisations and governance in Tower Hamlets is strong. The council continues to thrive and deliver the best services possible to residents.

Tower Hamlets is a high performing local authority, from building the largest number of new homes three years running to providing excellent schools and winning awards for procurement and our excellent parks. 

The council has a strong track record of work to promote equality and promote good relations between people from diverse communities.

In March 2014 we became the first council to be reaccredited at ‘Excellent’, the top level of the Equality Framework for Local Government.

We work vigorously to build greater social cohesion in the borough through our support for the No Place For Hate campaign – and have opposed both Muslim and Christian extremists.

Claims that the Council’s weekly publication is being used for political ends are wrong.  A recent ICM poll, to be published next week, found that East End Life is the most read publication in the borough with 41 per cent getting most of their information about local issues from East End Life. When prompted 61% said they read East End Life. Far from being a ‘town hall Pravda’ only 3 per cent of residents – when asked why they didn’t read East End Life – said it was due to bias. A 2011 review found that East End Life was the most cost-effective means of getting information to residents.

We have an excellent record in supporting residents including:

  • Free homecare for elderly residents
  • Replacing the cuts in council tax benefit made by the government
  • Replacing the Education Maintenance Allowance cut by the government
  • Introduced a new Higher Education Award for poorer students to attend University
  • Free school meals up to year 6 from September 2014
  • Restoration of Poplar baths in a £36m scheme with housing, leisure and youth facilities
  • Opening a new Idea Store (library) in Watney Market.”

The Guardian has published the following story ahead of Panorama being aired: BBC's Panorama investigates Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman.

The Independent has published a story on the Panorama investigation: Probe into alleged breaches in Panorama investigation.

March 31, 2014