Tower Hamlets Labour Group has accused Mayor Lutfur Rahman of raiding the Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy (NCIL) fund for his own agenda, at the expense of local infrastructure projects that were approved by the previous Labour administration.
At June’s meeting of Tower Hamlets Cabinet, Mayor Lutfur Rahman announced the unprecedented step of cancelling £17m of funding intended for schemes across the borough, as the Aspire administration attempts to balance the dramatic increase in council spending, alongside the £40m budget deficit.
All non-completed spending programmes agreed under the previous Labour administration have been cancelled and the funding reallocated – a large portion of which will instead make up funding for the mayor’s grants programme and affordable housing budget.
NCIL is a charge on new developments. It can help to pay for local infrastructure projects that support growth in the borough. These include schools, health services, leisure, open spaces and transport improvements. The Council must set aside 15% – 25% of NCIL receipts as Neighbourhood CIL. It must spend it on local priorities, in consultation with local communities.
Residents and community groups nominated 34 of the cancelled projects. Now they will have to reapply for funding for their projects.
Many of the schemes were for the Borough’s environmental commitments. £6,062,139.46 was earmarked for active travel, park creation and recycling. However, Tower Hamlets regularly ranks among the worst authorities in the country for its air quality and recycling rates.
Leader of the Tower Hamlets Labour Group, Cllr Sirajul Islam said:
“Mayor Rahman’s decision to raid the NCIL fund is a disgrace. He is taking away vital funding from local infrastructure projects that would benefit our communities and using it for his own agenda. He is showing once again that he is unfit to be the mayor of this borough.
The mayor was elected on a platform to create a “Cleaner, Greener” borough but these cuts and his administration’s performance suggest otherwise. This isn’t a priority for him or his party.
Residents are faced with dirty streets, overflowing bins, poor air quality and a lack of green space – problems that this funding would have helped combat.
We urge Mayor Rahman to reverse his decision and reinstate the NCIL programmes our residents were expecting.”