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We want a culture of transparency: John Biggs

2Bangla Mirror Desk

In a press conference on monday 20thJuly, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs- who has just completed his first month in office- spoke about some of the changes he has made in the first few weeks of his time in power. The Mayor was formally elected in the early hours of 11th June, but officially started in his new role at the Town Hall on Monday 15th June.

John Biggs said, “It has been an incredibly busy first few weeks. I have met with senior council officers, other elected members and council staff to discuss my priorities for my term in office, which I am now keen to implement.”

The mayor confirmed in the conference that he is scrapping the Mayoral car in favour of public transport and walking and pledged to reduce the amount of space used in the Town Hall for a Mayoral Office.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs also hit out at the Prime Minister’s David Cameron’s stance on Islamic extremism suggesting David Cameron’s remarks might cause people to be inappropriately labelled.
During a speech in Birmingham, David Cameron suggested the rise in UK-based extremism arose from cultural sensitivities and a lack of vigilance in society.
But at the press briefing  Mr Biggs said: “When David Cameron speaks as he does, there is a risk people will be labelled in a way that is inappropriate.
“In Tower Hamlets we have a relatively peaceful borough – people know what is right and what is wrong.
“Young people will always be vulnerable to wicked ideas, and I do believe Isis is wicked and divisive and that kind of thing doesn’t get us anywhere.
“But the fact that the spread of Isis is such a worldwide problem means it is not something we can just tackle by looking at Tower Hamlets.”

When asked about the Muslim community and the threat of radicalisation, Mr Biggs was quick to defend the largest single religious group in his borough. He said that having strong faith communities particularly the Muslim community is one of the reasons Tower Hamlets is a relatively peaceful borough. He supported this by saying despite hearing about incidents in the borough, “we haven’t had riots here.”

The Mayor also warned about the dangers of right-wing media which he said, “if you read, you would believe that every Muslim was planning to become a terrorist- it’s terrible the stuff that’s written about our Muslim communities.”

The Mayor also outlined his intentions to put housing, employment and improved opportunities for local people at the top of his agenda and to ensure that the borough is well-placed as it faces further cuts to its budget. Whilst Mr Biggs explained he would love to meet all the cuts without slashing a single job, he confessed, “I would be lying to you if I said there won’t be any job cuts.”

When asked about moving the Town Hall to Whitechapel, the Mayor told that the committee will look into the expenses and pros and cons.  If it is proved to be cost efficient, then they will look into it.  However, he was quick to emphasise that the Whitechapel vision will be accomplished fully apart from the moving of Town Hall.
Answering to another question, the Mayor confirmed that he is planning to scrap the council run newspaper Eastern Life as part of cost efficiency.
Deputy Mayor Cllr. Sirajul Isalm was also attended the press conference.