Tower Hamlets Council voted on November 3 to go ahead with disgraced former Mayor Lutfur Rahman's plans to move the town all to the former Royal London Hospital site in Whitechapel. Labour's Mayor John Briggs had previously described the plan as "a bit of a palace".
The move comes as neighbouring Newham Council is considering moving out of its own centralised Town Hall only 3 years after the moved in at a cost to taxpayers of £110 million.
Speaking while campaigning on London's housing crisis, Lib Dem candidate for City and East Elaine Bagshaw said:
"I am strongly against this move. At a time when Londoners are desperate for properly affordable homes, Tower Hamlets Council is going to spend millions on itself. This will move services further away from people who need them, in spite of the evidence coming from Newham that shows it's a bad idea.
Whitechapel should be a centre of affordable homes and space for local businesses, not a hub of paperwork and bureaucracy."
Sheree Miller, Liberal Democrat Candidate for Boleyn Ward, Newham, said; 'At a time when Newham council are warning residents of their need to cut £50 million from their budget, it is galling that they now realise their mistake and the subsequent waste of money incurred to the tax payers. Services have therefore been affected twice over. Should I be elected, I would demand greater scrutiny and accountability for decisions like these that have a huge affect on local people.'
People still remember the Liberal Democrats' Local Neighbourhoods which made Council services closer and more responsive to people. This would be at the heart of a Liberal Democrat-run Tower Hamlets.
Notes to editors
Lutfur’s Palace: http://www.wharf.co.uk/news/local-news/tower-hamlets-councillors-agree-new-10384719
Newham considers leaving its Town Hall after three years: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/deprived-newham-watches-bemused-as-council-ponders-move-from-110m-building-after-just-three-years-8836972.html
Newham and Tower Hamlets are the two most deprived boroughs in the country for housing and services: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/english-indices-of-deprivation-2015
Elaine Bagshaw has called onTower Hamlets to join the fight to improve local mental healthcare services.
It is part of an initiative led by Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson, Norman Lamb, working together with Alastair Campbell and Andrew Mitchell, which calls for the Government to improve mental healthcare.
As Tower Hamlets conducts its budget review. Local Liberal Democrats urge the Council to protect funding for mental health services, and to ensure it is treated in the same way as physical healthcare.
Mr Lamb has led a cross party campaign to put mental health firmly on the agenda ahead of theGovernment’s spending review later this month.
More than 200 leaders from politics, business, the arts, sport and faith groups have signed an open letter calling on the Government to end the “historic injustice suffered by those who have mental ill health”.
Elaine Bagshaw said: “The Tower Hamlets Liberal Democrats are proud to say that we wholeheartedly support this important campaign.
“The Lib Dems will continue the fight for better mental healthcare both nationally and locally. The Council is currently doing its budget review and looking to save money from targeting mental health services better. I worry that this could leave people without the help and support they need, so I urge the Council to protect the current levels of funding for local mental health services.”
Mental health services suffer from underfunding and lag behind in comparison to treatment for physical health problems, yet one in four people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year.
The open letter highlights 10 major concerns, including lack of access to treatment, long waiting times and a 20 year gap in life expectancy between those with mental health problems and the rest of the population.
Signatories include Delia Smith, Richard Curtis, Danny Boyle, Annie Lennox, Graham Norton, Steve Coogan, Frank Skinner, Sam Allardyce, Alan Pardew and Sir Steve Redgrave.
Norman Lamb said: “It is simply not good enough for people with mental health problems to be treated as second class citizens. It's a huge injustice which I am determined to end.
I wanted to see if we could get together a stellar list of leaders from across society to come together to call for equality for those who suffer mental ill health. We have been amazed by the response. Virtually everyone we have asked, agreed to sign. Now we must build a movement across the country demanding an end to this historic injustice.
“I am very proud of the work Lib Dems did on mental health in Government. We secured additional funding for mental health and introduced the first waiting time standards for mental healthcare, but the battle for true equality is far from over.”
Hundreds of properties in Tower Hamlets could be sold off under government plans to reduce the number of council homes.
Liberal Democrats have criticised the move as “irresponsible” and said it would ramp up demand for housing and increase rents.
It comes despite figures from homeless charity Shelter which show there are 20,425 families on the housing waiting list in Tower Hamlets.
The Housing and Planning Bill - debated in the House of Commons on Monday - includes plans to force councils to sell low rent homes in high value areas, as the Conservative Party rolls out its Right to Buy scheme.
Elaine Bagshaw, London Assembly candidate said: “The Tory plans are irresponsible and will mean even less cheap to rent and social homes where we need them most.
Once sold off to the private market, we lose them as affordable homes forever. It means more families on low to middle incomes will struggle to get a decent home.
The Liberal Democrats will fight to defend social housing. The Tories should not be forcing local councils to sell off homes Tower Hamlets needs. Our local Labour council can always find room for luxury flats and pet projects like a new Town Hall - it’s time then found room for decent homes for local families."
On the 26th of October, the Liberal Democrats tried to stop George Osborne's unfair and economically unwise cuts to people's tax credits by voting for an amendment – the so-called "fatal motion" – that would have killed off the cuts altogether.
In Government, Liberal Democrats blocked these cuts and we continue to oppose them now. We said it was not fair to make savings by cutting the support for people on low and middle incomes. In City and East the cuts would have affected 52,000 families and 96,000 children. Instead, we believe that people who earn more should bear a fair share of the cost, and that cutting the money people have to spend on everyday items risks hurting the economy too.
During the election, Danny Alexander warned that the Conservatives were considering the cuts. Prime Minister David Cameron even made a promise that tax credits would not be cut. We think it is only fair that he be held to that promise.
Sadly, Jeremy Corbyn's Labour peers chose not to vote on the Liberal Democrat motion, just like Labour MPs abstained on the welfare bill in the summer.
As Liberal Democrats we would rather see the best result for people, so we supported the weaker amendments even though it means the cuts are only delayed and not stopped, and that they start immediately for new claimants, hurting young people the most.
The Prime Minister and the Chancellor are trying to cover their embarrassment by calling this a "constitutional crisis". But what the Lords did was correct. It was the Government's choice to avoid the scrutiny given to a Parliamentary Bill by sending these measures to the Lords as a ‘Statutory Instrument’, which the Lords can only say yes or no to. Many moderate Conservatives were already calling on Mr Osborne to think again about these cuts, so the Lords have actually done their job of calling on the Government to think again.
The Metropolitan Police could lose as many as 8,000 police officers if the Government’s plans to cut their budget go ahead. This represents cutting nearly a quarter of the police force, in addition to the 5,655 officers already lost since 2010. In Tower Hamlets, that could mean between 150 to 300 police lost, depending on how the cuts are applied.
These cuts to the policing budget are happening while crime is increasing in the capital. Recent stats from the Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC) show that knife crime with injury is up 14% in the past 12 months, while serious youth violence has increased by 8%, along with a 16.5% increase in the number of firearms discharged. Londoners, including Tower Hamlets residents, are paying the price for this reduced police presence.
A former police sergeant in charge of the gangs unit for the Met has said the police have “lost control” of the streets, with lots of London’s gang territories going ‘unchecked’. Around 50 gangs are said to operate in Tower Hamlets alone.
Since 2010, the Met has seen £600,000 in budget cuts resulting in 244 fewer police officers and PCSOs in Tower Hamlets. The Met is facing another £1,000,000 budget cut this year. At this rate, retired police say that they fear that London will not be able to cope with another city-wide riot like 2011.
The Government is also looking at cutting 1,000 Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) who play a key role in helping keep our neighbourhoods safe. These PCSOs are important for creating trust in the community and helping to free up police officers to respond to more serious crime.
If you want to keep our communities safe please help Elaine Bagshaw and the Lib Dems stop the cuts by signing our petition here
“The Prime Minister’s apparent 11th hour conversion to social justice is welcome but it will fool no one.
“If you want to understand this Tory Government you have to look at what they have done and not the promises of a seasoned PR man.
“This, after all, is from a Government that has already scrapped the child poverty target, demonised refugees, cut benefits for asylum seekers and slashed housing benefit for large families.
“It is the most extraordinary chutzpah for Mr Cameron to claim to be a poverty champion at the same time he is picking the pockets of the very poorest workers by slashing their tax credits.
“The Prime Minister might spin a decent line about prison reform too but this is from a party that banned prisoners’ reading books.
“And if he was really concerned about racial discrimination he would publicly denounce his Home Secretary’s shameful attack on immigrants yesterday.
“The Liberal Democrats welcome the Prime Minister’s change of tone but it has to be backed up by actions – not just easy words.”
“At last Cameron has woken up to the crisis under his nose and started talking about the lack of affordable housing.
“Liberal Democrats have long been calling for swift and serious action to tackle the national housing emergency.
“But typically the Conservative focus is on helping the few not the many. They seem only interested in helping better off renters and not the 1.6 million people on waiting lists for a home of any sort.
“Starter homes may sound promising but this announcement will only make a dent in the housing crisis and we must do much more.”
A few weeks ago, I went to Calais. I talked there with about 20 refugees. I heard their stories of harrowing risks, dangers fled, and desperation for their children.
I have to tell you, not a single one of them mentioned benefits.
They wanted to come to Britain to be safe, to work, to contribute.
They see our country as a place of opportunity, a place to make the most of yourself, a place where you can be the best you can be.
Because you don’t risk everything clinging to the bottom of a truck if you’re looking for an easy life.
I met a 14 year-old boy who had broken both of his legs trying to board a lorry, he was in a wheelchair pushed by a boy who was 11. Both had lost their parents, both were alone.
After the second world war, Britain offered homes to up two thousand children whose parents had been murdered in the Holocaust. I know this because around 300 of them came to my constituency to recuperate and became known as the Windermere boys. In all the UK provided homes to 700 such children.
That was all who were left alive to take up our offer.
On Wednesday 26th August the Mayor is making a planning decision as to whether to approve the Enderby Cruise terminal in Greenwich.
Local residents have been fighting against the building of the new terminal, and have continued fighting despite the application being approved by Greenwich Borough Council. As only the Mayor has the power to overturn this decision, Wednesday is the final chance for local residents to be protected from the noise and significant air pollution that would result from the opening of the terminal.