The Leader of the Tower Hamlets Labour Group, Cllr Sirajul Islam has today written to Cllr Shafi Ahmed, the Speaker of Tower Hamlets Council to express his concern at the conduct of the Aspire Group in the last two meetings of the Full Council where questions submitted from members of the Opposition have not been heard.

In the letter, Cllr Islam writes that the meeting of the Full Council is a vital example of local democracy where residents are given the opportunity to see their elected representatives act on their behalf, and a key way in which this is done is through questions from Councillors to the Mayor and his Cabinet. In both meetings of the Full Council on Wednesday 27th July and Wednesday 5th October the item of the agenda which contained Council Questions and Motions were not reached. This included an important Cross-Party Motion on mental health and well-being of our staff.

The Tower Hamlets Labour Group did propose a motion on both occasions to extend the meeting by thirty minutes so that the questions could be heard, however this motion was voted down by the majority Aspire Group.

The letter also notes that the written responses to the opposition questions submitted for the Full Council meeting on Wednesday 27th July were not provided or published until Tuesday 4th October.

Leader of the Tower Hamlets Labour Group, Cllr Sirajul Islam said:

“The monthly meeting of Tower Hamlets Council shows our residents local democracy in action and provides a much-needed opportunity for the Mayor and his Cabinet to be held to account. The fact that questions from the opposition have not been heard in either of the first two ordinary Full Council meetings of the new Mayor’s term is highly concerning.

 “I call on the Speaker of the Council to fully address the concerns raised and ensure that democracy in this great borough will not be ignored by the new Aspire administration.”

 

Full Text of the Letter to the Speaker of the Council

Dear Mr Speaker,

I am writing today on behalf of the Tower Hamlets Labour Group regarding the conduct of the last two meetings of Tower Hamlets Council where questions submitted from members of the Opposition were not heard.

As you will know, the meeting of the Full Council is a vital example of local democracy where we can show the residents of our great borough how we are representing their interests. A key way we do this is through questions from our Councillors, where we act on behalf of our residents in ensuring the Mayor and the Cabinet act in the best interests of everyone in the borough.

I am very concerned that in both of our previous Full Council meetings on Wednesday 27th July and Wednesday 5th October we did not get to the Questions item of the agenda. The Labour Group did bring a motion to extend the meeting by a further thirty minutes to ensure that these important questions were heard, however the Aspire Group voted this down. The Labour administration was always open to questions from our opposition colleagues as we were not afraid of scrutiny.

Had the Aspire Group supported our request to extend the meeting by another thirty minutes, the Mayor and his Cabinet could not only have addressed Members’ Question but also considered the Cross-Party Motion on the mental health and well-being of our staff. I was surprised to see no urgency from the Mayor and his administration on this important motion, especially given World Mental Health Day was this week.

I was also shocked to see that the written responses to our questions that we submitted to be heard on Wednesday 27th July were not provided until the day before this month’s meeting.

Important topics, such as the Transport for London consultation on Bus Routes D3 and D7, the funding of the huge expansion of the Mayor’s Office and important local issues that have been raised by our residents to whom the Mayor is accountable.

I would be grateful if you could fully address our concerns and provide assurances that democracy in this borough will not be ignored by the new administration.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

Cllr Sirajul Islam

Leader of the Tower Hamlets Labour Group

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