Tower Hamlets Councillors tonight voted in favour of Mayor John Biggs budget proposals which set out a vision to make Tower Hamlets a cleaner, safer and fairer borough.
Mayor Biggs was re-elected last year in a local election which saw a Labour landslide in Tower Hamlets. Last year also saw the final government direction lifted from the council, important milestones in cleaning up the council following the disastrous legacy of the discredited former Mayor Lutfur Rahman.
This budget delivers on the manifesto commitments the Mayor and Labour councillors were elected on and sets out an ambitious vision for the borough. It’s focused on providing first class public services and investing to make the borough cleaner, safer and fairer.
Among the proposals there is extra cash for a new dedicated Anti-Social Behaviour team with a £1.7m funding boost. This is on top of the £3m investment in additional police officers the Mayor announced to protect residents following the Tory Government cutting over 200 police officers in the borough since 2010.
The budget includes £332m investment for new council housing schemes and temporary accommodation which will enable the Mayor to deliver on his 2,000 council homes pledge. It also invests £4.9m in early years and additional support for our schools to ensure the best start in life for our young people.
The council has faced nearly a decade of austerity since the Tory-Lib Dem Government took office in 2010 and over the next 3 years the council will have to save a further £44m.
Despite this the budget also protects the crown jewels of Ideas Stores, Libraries, Gyms, Parks and Leisure Centres. The Mayor has also expanded his Tackling Poverty Fund to protect the most vulnerable against the government’s disastrous Universal Credit roll out and welfare cap.
The budget means that Tower Hamlets will still have the 7th lowest council tax in London and retains the generous Council Tax Reduction Scheme so those on the lowest incomes will be protected.
Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said: “My budget will make Tower Hamlets a safer, fairer and cleaner borough. There’s no escaping the fact that after nearly a decade of austerity, and the loss of £148m in core government funding since 2010 we face tough choices.
“However I’m proud of many positive measures in this budget, which include our schemes to tackle poverty, invest in new and improved housing, better schools, jobs, and cleaning up our environment. The budget protects key services and the most vulnerable and delivers for our residents.”
Councillor Candida Ronald, Cabinet Member for Resources and the Voluntary Sector:
“I’m proud of our budget proposals which represent us delivering on our manifesto. We consulted with residents who told us their priorities were community safety, housing, children’s services and education. This budget responds to those priorities and in a very tough funding climate following years of Tory Government cuts delivers positive changes for our residents.”
Some budget highlights:
- £1.7m for a new team of ASB enforcement officers to keep our streets safe on top of the additional police officers already funded by the council.
- £2.5m funding to improve our waste and cleansing service and a new team to remove graffiti and clean up our borough
- £332m for new council housing schemes and temporary accommodation (£217m new build, £115m temporary accommodation)
- £4.9m investment in Early Years and high quality childcare and additional support for our schools
- £2.7m to protect Free School Meals and expand our Tackling Poverty Fund
- Funding for two new secondary schools and a new bridge across South Dock on the Isle of Dogs
- A major expansion of our flagship ‘Love Your Neighbourhood’ scheme to refresh our streets and improve our street scene.
- Scrapping the charge for street parties to make community gatherings easier
- New measures to incentivise cleaner cars and reduce air pollution