Plans to change business rates that will see massive rises for London shops and other small businesses while going easy on off-shore multi-national internet giants have been slammed by the Liberal Democrats.
Official figures show that Tower Hamlets area will see business rates rise by 8.7 per cent.
Elaine Bagshaw, Liberal Democrat PPC for Poplar & Limehouse constituency, said:
“Many local small businesses are extremely worried about this change. Against a backdrop of increased rents and fierce competition from online retailers, many shops and small businesses are being punished by the Conservative government simply for committing to the economic life of their neighbourhoods.
“Why should a local sandwich shop face an increase that could threaten its entire business, yet Amazon’s giant warehouses enjoy a taxcut?
“If that were not galling enough, local firms have to pay increased business rates for improvements they make to properties that in many cases they don’t even own. Even the Conservatives should admit that this cannot be fair. It is time they held their hand up, admitted they have got this all wrong, and start again.”
Elaine Bagshaw has called for ministers to reform both business rates and corporation tax so firms will be taxed according to their ability to pay. Elaine Bagshaw added: “Vince Cable is chairing a commission for the Liberal Democrats to come up with a fair and effective system. The sad thing is that this was avoidable, but the Conservatives shelved a proposal from the Liberal Democrats during the last coalition government to reform the system.
“Small business owners in Tower Hamlets are already reeling from the Conservative Brexit government’s decision to go for a hard Brexit and take us out of the Single Market. Now they are being asked to pick up the tab while the government let big international business off the hook. This is yet another example of a Conservative Government that has lost any right to call itself ‘the Party of Business’.”
After a Council meeting lasting over three and a half hours, we left still with no clarity over what’s happening with children centres and youth services but with a clear picture of the disfunction on the Council, which operates without an effective opposition and is letting residents down.
Liberal Democrat Councillor Andrew Cregan said, “Liberal Democrats have been vocal on the need for this budget to protect our vital children’s centres and nurseries. We hope the services will be preserved as the Mayor and Labour councillors have promised, and we will be watching closely to ensure young people and mothers don’t bear the brunt of these changes.
We’re glad the Mayor has listened to our concerns and is setting up a taskforce to look into the impact of Brexit on our borough. Many businesses in our area are dependent on access to the single market, and we have many EU citizens living in the borough who have no idea what will happen to them in the future. I look forward to taking part in the taskforce and ensuring businesses and residents are able to prepare for the impact of the Conservatives’ Hard Brexit.”
Parliamentary spokesperson for Poplar & Limehouse Elaine Bagshaw said, “The Council meeting itself was a shambles. Insults thrown back and forth from the opposition and Labour benches. A Speaker totally incapable of controlling the meeting. Opposition “amendments” that were actually just political posturing with no real attempt to amend the budget and make things better for local people. Tower Hamlets needs and deserves a fresh start - a total and clean break with the baggage of the past so that we can build a better borough for local residents.”
Local Liberal Democrat, Elaine Bagshaw, has called on Tower Hamlets Council to protest the Government’s decision to walk away from their commitment to take child refugees from Europe.
Last year, after an outpouring of public support, the Conservative Government was forced to accept an amendment to the Immigration Bill offering sanctuary to vulnerable, lone child refugees trapped in Europe. Less than a year after that decision, only 350 children have been taken in and the scheme is being closed. Local authorities are being blamed for this decision, with the Government pointing to a lack of capacity.
Tower Hamlets Council should make representations to Government for more funding to allow them to host more vulnerable refugee children.
Commenting Liberal Democrats spokesperson, Elaine Bagshaw said:
“Our local council must stand up against the Government’s attempt to pass the buck on their failure to support lone child refugees. Our community wants to welcome unaccompanied children and the Government should be giving local authorities the financial resources needed to enable this.”
Local residents demand John Biggs and Labour keep their promise to protect children’s centres
The Labour Council is planning big cuts to local services. Local Children’s Centres are just one of the things under threat. Councillors increased their salaries by up to 40% last year - yet claim the centres are too expensive.
One in two children in Tower Hamlets grows up in poverty - the highest rate in the country. Tower Hamlets Children’s Centres are an amazing resource for local children. They provide a lifeline to their carers who would be able to gain training and employment. The closure of Children’s Centres and their Satellite Sites will destroy the essential local reach which enables staff to understand the needs of local people.
In their 2015 campaign John Biggs and Labour promised to keep our Children’s Centres open. Make sure they keep their promise to local families. Sign the petition here:
Andrew Cregan, Councillor for Island Gardens ward in Tower Hamlets, has today defected to the Liberal Democrats over Jeremy Corbyn and Labour’s support for Brexit. This means Labour lose control of the Council, and it moves to no overall control.
Andrew said: “After much soul searching, I have resigned my membership of the Labour Party in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, where I have served as the Chairman of the Labour Group of Councillors.
I joined the Labour Party as a teenager because I believed in its core values. At the time it was an unambiguously pro-European party, but today that is no longer the case.
I believe that Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership has taken the Labour Party backwards in many ways, and he has failed to put forward the overwhelming case for remaining in the European Union, both during the referendum campaign and ever since. In doing so he has let down all the people of Britain.
I will have no part of a political party that is acquiescent in taking our country out of the European Union and the Single Market, breaking links with our friends, allies and closest trading partners.
I have today joined the Liberal Democrats as a party that is dedicated to keeping the UK open, tolerant and united. And remains unambiguously pro-European.”
Parliamentary Spokesperson for Poplar & Limehouse, Elaine Bagshaw said: "I'm delighted to welcome Andrew to the Liberal Democrats today. Brexit is one of the biggest threats to the UK there has been in our lifetime, yet Jeremy Corbyn and Labour have forgotten what it means to be an opposition. They are skipping hand in hand off the edge of the Brexit cliff with Theresa May and the Tories.
Tower Hamlets is home to Canary Wharf and a growing technology industry. All of that is under threat from Brexit. Thousands of jobs will be lost if financial services firms have to leave, and a borough that already has nearly 50% of its children growing up in poverty will only see that get worse. Corbyn and the Labour party are being totally complicit in the damage Brexit will wreak on our local area.
I encourage any members of the Labour party who really care about us being open, tolerant and united as a country to join the Liberal Democrats today."
Following Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron's statements in the media this morning, Tower Hamlets Liberal Democrats have joined him in condemning Theresa May's implied support for Trump's ban on Muslims.
Local Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson, Elaine Bagshaw, said: "It took hours for Theresa May to say she disagreed with this utter disgrace of a policy, and that was only after significant pressure. Even now, all we have is a weak, mealy-mouthed statement saying she doesn't agree with the policy.
Liberal Democrats across the country have been completely appalled by Trump's actions and the Conservative Government's response. Banning people on the grounds of their Muslim religion, including people who already have Green Cards and refugees fleeing violence in Syria is something we won't stand for. It is Liberal Democrats who are on the side of the people being discriminated against by this atrocious policy."
Local residents are furious at Labour's plans which could see more police cuts and crime soar.
In January’s budget from City Hall, Labour failed to save funding for additional police officers - breaking a key election promise.
Tower Hamlets is already seeing an increase in crime, whilst it drops in other parts of the capital. Reported crime rose by nearly 8% in Tower Hamlets. Across London it dropped by nearly 3%. Many residents have told us that anti-social behaviour and drug related crime is on the increase and is a constant worry.
Local campaigner Elaine Bagshaw said, “People are tired of constant broken promises from Labour. Anti-social behaviour, drug dealing and drug taking are seen constantly in our area. The police are too stretched to deal with the problem. Tower Hamlets needs a fair deal on policing, with more funding and bobbies on the beat to address our growing problems.”
We call on Labour to:
1: Stick to their 2016 promise to preserve police funding
2: Give Tower Hamlets Police the funding it needs to address the increasing crime in the Borough
Please sign our petition.
Parents and members of the local community are outraged at plans to change the name of Osmani School to Vallance School from September. Parents were informed of the change in a letter on the 12th January. There has been no consultation with parents, children or the community on the change.
Local campaigner Elaine Bagshaw said: "This is an outrageous and unnecessary move. Osmani School received a "good with outstanding features" rating from Ofsted, so why isn't the school publicising that rather than trying to change the name?
Osmani School is named after a key figure in Bangladesh's history. It's important that our local community keeps these links to its heritage and celebrates them. The move has caused a huge amount of upset to parents and the local community. I and the local Liberal Democrats will be working with parents and people from across the political spectrum to make sure the Osmani School stays."
At a public meeting last night, attended by Liberal Democrat Elaine Bagshaw and representatives from The People's Alliance, parents and community leaders made it clear that this change would hurt them as a community and said they felt attacked. We hope that the school staff and governors listen to their voices and overturn the decision.
After a spate of thefts and muggings around Bartlett Park over Christmas and the New Year, local resident and campaigner Elaine Bagshaw is calling on the Council and Poplar HARCA to install more CCTV in the area.
"We all have a right to feel safe in our homes and communities. That's under threat around Bartlett Park. When residents have reported crimes and problems to the police we've been told the area isn't covered by CCTV. As it's clear the problem is increasing, I'm asking the Council and Poplar HARCA to work together to give us a better chance of catching the culprits and make everyone feel secure in the area again."
You can sign the petition and support this campaign here: https://www.change.org/p/tower-hamlets-council-install-cctv-around-bartlett-park
Our local council in Tower Hamlets has spent £7052.75 compensating motorists for damage caused by potholes since 2012, figures uncovered by the Liberal Democrats have revealed.
Nationally a total of £12 million have been paid out over the last four years, with an average payment per person of £650.
The figures were uncovered by Freedom of Information requests to 500 councils by the Liberal Democrats.
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson Elaine Bagshaw said:
"This is a lose-lose situation for everyone, whether they are motorists, councils or taxpayers.
“People already have to fork out so much to drive a car, the least they should expect is that their vehicle doesn't get ruined by a bumpy road.
“Thousands of pounds are now being spent on pay-outs that could have been invested instead in fixing our roads.
"This is a symptom of the short-termist approach being taken to infrastructure investment.
"Roads should be fixed quickly so this compensation does not have to be paid out in the first place.”