Tower Hamlets Labour Group has slammed the extravagant spending of Mayor Lutfur Rahman, who is planning to upgrade his personal office at the expense of residents. The lavish makeover is set to cost taxpayers at least a staggering £400,000.
The shocking revelation came after opposition members received answers to questions, they had asked at the March full Council meeting. The Leader of the Labour Group, Councillor Siraj Islam, asked:
“I understand the new Mayor’s Office is currently undergoing construction work in our New Town Hall here in Whitechapel, which is significantly larger than originally planned. Can the Mayor tell me what the cost is of creating this larger office space?”
The initial estimate for Mayor Rahman’s swanky mezzanine office included a brand-new kitchen and an extra-large boardroom with bespoke design, lighting and technology features. However, the full extent of the works became apparent when a planning application was submitted for the works, suggesting that the actual costs will far exceed the original budget.
The plans involve removing the staff canteen, which is currently located in the grade II listed former hospital chapel and replacing it with a new and expanded office for the mayor.
The new multi-million-pound purpose-built Town Hall building was only opened in January of this year.
The additional costs are on top of the £1.4m already spent every year on tripling the number of personal staff working for the mayor, which included the hiring of nine consultants. Mayor Rahman’s office redecoration means that his personal office expenditure will cost residents of Tower Hamlets well over the initial £5m estimates.
Unison, which represents a significant number of staff at the council, are expected to launch a campaign against the plans.
Leader of the Tower Hamlets Labour Group, Councillor Siraj Islam (Bethnal Green East) said:
“To see that Mayor Rahman’s extravagant spending spree has continued is incredibly troubling for residents in Tower Hamlets.
We are in cost-of-living crisis, where nearly all our residents are struggling to get by and Mayor Lutfur Rahman and his Aspire group are racking up bills that residents will ultimately have to pay for.
It is indefensible that Mayor Rahman and Aspire councillors seem intent on only adding to the £30m deficit they have created, especially for something such as upgrading your office in a brand-new building.”