The Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman and his colleagues in the Aspire Group yesterday voted against a Tower Hamlets Labour motion which pressed for immediate support to help the borough’s small businesses in the face of the Energy Bill Crisis.
In a meeting of Tower Hamlets Council on Wednesday 5th October, the Aspire Group proposed an amendment to the Labour Group motion which deleted the proposal for a Small Business Hardship Fund to help small businesses in these times of economic turmoil and deleted its proposal to provide business rates relief. It also mentioned a dividend for Tower Hamlets’ SMEs as part of the Mayor’s Covid Additional Relief Fund that had not been mentioned by Mayor Rahman before Tower Hamlets Labour proposed this motion.
The Aspire Group’s amendment also reiterated the Mayor’s support to residents through its Cost of Living package, which does not mention small businesses, and neglects the fact that the Mayor chose to refuse further support to residents by voting down Tower Hamlets Labour’s proposals for an Emergency Budget in July’s Full Council meeting.
Leader of the Tower Hamlets Labour Group, Cllr Sirajul Islam, who proposed the motion said:
“When Labour was in power, we worked hard to ensure our small businesses were protected in the face of the negative impact of the pandemic including providing over £200 million in grants and business rates relief. The same innovative approach was needed now to ensure a robust and effective response from the Mayor.
“I am disappointed but sadly not surprised that Mayor Rahman and his Aspire Group voted against our proposals to support small businesses. We deserve better in this borough.”
Cllr Sabina Akhtar, who seconded the motion said:
“I have spoken to many small business owners across Tower Hamlets and they have told me of the immense struggles they are facing due to the current economic crisis, which is of the same scale as during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It is our duty as elected representatives to help our communities in any way we can, and Mayor Rahman and his Aspire Group have failed in this duty by voting down our proposals to support local businesses.”