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Tower Hamlets Brexit Commission launched as expert panel announced


L-R: Professor Tony Travers, Mayor John Biggs, Cllr Amina Ali, Howard Dawber L-R: Professor Tony Travers, Mayor John Biggs, Cllr Amina Ali, Howard Dawber
A commission tasked with examining the likely impact of Brexit on Tower Hamlets was officially launched earlier today.
Mayor John Biggs first announced plans for a Tower Hamlets Brexit Commission at a meeting of his cabinet in August. It follows on from the detailed work that the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee has been undertaking since last year to prepare for Brexit.
This morning he unveiled the line-up of commissioners and issued the first call for evidence to inform the commission’s work.
The panel that will work together in the coming months includes Professor Tony Travers of LSE, Howard Dawber – Managing Director for strategy at Canary Wharf Group, Ivana Bartoletti of the Fabian Women’s Network and others.
They will examine evidence and question witnesses before producing a report setting out recommendations to best prepare the borough for the UK’s departure from the European Union.
To see the full lineup of commissioners, please visit our dedicated meet the commissioners web page.
The commission, which will be led by Cllr Amina Ali, the Tower Hamlets Cabinet Member for Culture, Arts, and Brexit, will divide its work into three key areas – the economy, public services and civil society.
The first evidence session will look at public services and will take place on October 3. It will see expert witnesses called to present their thoughts and analysis on Brexit and its potential impact in their respective fields.
Ahead of the in-person session, there will be an opportunity for the public and relevant organisations to contribute their own evidence in writing or by visiting the dedicated commission webpage.
John Biggs, Executive Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said:
“I am delighted to announce our panel of commissioners who will bring a breadth of experience to our work preparing for Brexit.
“The East End is used to adapting when faced with challenges and while the detail of the final Brexit deal is still unclear, as a council we are planning for both the risks and opportunities it will bring.
“We want to hear from residents, businesses and civil society to help shape the commission’s report which will provide key recommendations on how we prepare Tower Hamlets for Brexit.”
Cllr Amina Ali, Chair of the Tower Hamlets Brexit Commission and Cabinet Member for Culture, Arts and Brexit, said:
“Tower Hamlets has spent the last year preparing for Brexit; this commission is the next step in this process.
“We want to hear from our businesses and residents so that we can understand their concerns and seek to support them where we can.
“With commissioners representing a cross section of society and input from residents, our work will ensure that whatever type of Brexit we end up with, as a borough we are prepared to succeed.”
For more information about the work of the commission, to have your say, or to read more about the commissioners, please visitwww.towerhamlets.gov.uk/brexit

The full line-up of commissioners is as follows:
Cllr Amina Ali – Chair of the Brexit Commission and Cabinet Member for Culture,Arts and Brexit
Cllr Mohammed Pappu – Tower Hamlets councillor and Scrutiny Lead for Brexit
Professor Tony Travers – Professor of government at LSE
Howard Dawber – Managing Director for Strategy at Canary Wharf Group
Michael Pantlin – Director of People at Barts Health
Ivana Bartoletti – Chair Fabian Women’s Network
Sue Terpilowski – London lead for Federation of Small Businesses
Fahimul Islam – Young Mayor of Tower Hamlets
Sadia Ahmed – Deputy Young Mayor of Tower Hamlets
Background information on why Brexit will matter to Tower Hamlets:
The borough sits at the heart of London’s economy, straddling Canary Wharf and the City Fringe.
It is the third largest contributor to the UK economy, responsible for as much as £12 billion in tax revenue each year.
More than one in seven residents in our borough, around 41,000 people, are from the remaining 27 EU states. They play a valued role in one of the country’s most diverse and inclusive communities.
In Canary Wharf alone, each day 120,000 men and women work in 37 office buildings alongside 300 shops, cafes and restaurants.
But the borough’s business community is not just characterised by the big names. Small and medium sized enterprises are at the heart of the Tower Hamlets economy, with almost 99 per cent of the 16,800 firms based here employing fewer than 250 people.
Initial indications are that Brexit will place particular pressure on companies working in the financial, real estate, administrative services, distribution, hospitality, transport and communications sectors, as they are the most reliant on an EU workforce.
Communities in Tower Hamlets have benefited from significant EU funding in recent years through the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund. The borough currently receives £2.6 million towards initiatives to improve the local economy, development, infrastructure, employment and training.
How will the commission’s report be used:
We will use the report to inform our lobbying and outreach effort aimed at supporting the work of the Greater London Authority, the Local Government Association, London Councils and the borough’s MPs, to ensure the best Brexit outcome for our residents.
When complete, the report will represent one of the most significant pieces of research into the likely impact of Brexit at a local level in East London. As Parliament continues to scrutinise the Government’s plans for leaving the EU, the council will stand ready to contribute to that work by sharing the lessons learnt during the evidence gathering and report writing process.
With a number of possible exit scenarios still a possibility, the commission will also be expected to shape the development of high level contingency plans to manage key risks to the borough’s economy, civil society and public services.