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Mayor of Tower Hamlets: 100 Days in Office

London Borough of Tower HamletsThe Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, has completed his first 100 days in office, with a mayoralty which has seen a drive towards openness and accountability.

Speaking at a briefing at the town hall today (October 1), the Mayor confirmed his commitment to creating a council that is open and transparent, as well as one that provides excellent services.

Mayor Biggs said: “I will best serve the people of Tower Hamlets by providing services that are of the highest standard and provide good value for money.

“During my first 100 days in office, my focus has been on reducing unnecessary spend and working to put the council on the right track for the future.”

During the last three months the council has confirmed the appointment of a new Chief Executive, who is due to start later this month, plus two other senior officers, and in doing so has met the requirements of directions imposed by the Government.

The Mayor has moved to a smaller office at the town hall and removed the need for a chauffeur driven car, revealing that he walks to the office from his home in the borough each day.

He has also been clear about the issues which he wants to focus on as Mayor in order to make the borough a better place for everyone who lives and works here.

Mayor Biggs said: “I am proud of the vibrant, diverse population we have here in Tower Hamlets. It has always been a borough at the cutting edge. However, the anti-gentrification marches over the weekend and yesterday’s apparent drop in child poverty figures show our borough is going through some profound changes.

“And whilst I do not condone a violent response to these changes, it is an issue we need to address. I want to ensure that local people continue to benefit from our work to reduce inequality and improve access to jobs – and it is great that our employment rate in Tower Hamlets is the highest it has been for over a decade.

“However, I am concerned that the impact of welfare reform and rising house prices in the capital undermine our efforts locally to support the most vulnerable. It could be that our reduction in child poverty is due to low income families no longer being able to afford to live in our borough and that’s why we need an approach to housing and development that is fair and does not force people who have lived here for generations to move out when they don’t want to.”

In addition the first 100 days in office have seen the resolution of the legal dispute with Rich Mix, confirmation that the Henry Moore sculpture affectionately known as ‘Old Flo’ will be returning to the east end and a cross-party letter to the Prime Minister showing the commitment of the borough to support those affected by the current refugee crisis.

A Cabinet commission on affordable housing and a Transparency Commission to look at the ways the council can become even more open and accountable have also been set up.

As the council enters its next round of budget consultation, and difficult decisions in light of ongoing cuts to its funding, the Mayor is clear on what the focus should be.

“Our borough is changing, and I am clear that these changes must be harnessed to benefit our residents, visitors and businesses. I will ensure that the council continues to be open and transparent about the work we do and the decisions I take, and will work with local people to ensure they help to shape a borough that we can all be proud of.”