John Biggs Open Letter:
This election you have a choice between taking the borough forwards with strong
leadership and a positive vision for Tower Hamlets – or a return to the chaos and
disruption of the past. I urge you to look carefully at our records and what we have
promised. Only I can offer the leadership to continue the progress we have made to
make Tower Hamlets an even better place to live.
Under my leadership we have seen real progress. Delivering 2,000 council homes
and thousands more affordable homes, delivering strong school results and getting
people into jobs and training through WorkPath, protecting Free School meals and
our Council Tax Reduction in the face of Tory austerity and keeping council funded
police officers on the beat as well as getting drug dealers behind bars by working
with the police. We’ve also protected he frontline services you rely on from Ideas
Stores and Libraries, children’s centres, gyms and leisure centres and we have
invested in our award-winning parks.
I’ve had the privilege of serving this borough as an elected representative, in one
role or another, for over 30 years. It has been the greatest honour of my life. We are
the best borough in London and I’m very proud of our community that stands united
regardless of religion, ethnicity, or class – truly one Tower Hamlets.
Being Mayor requires strong serious leadership for a borough of over 300,000
people and an annual budget of hundreds of millions of pounds. I have spent many
years cleaning up the mess left by the former Mayor. Through challenging times from
the pandemic, cost of living crisis and ongoing Tory austerity – we have stood
shoulder to shoulder with our community.
We don’t need a return to Mayor who dragged Tower Hamlets name through the
mud and who led to the council having its powers taking away – with us all as council
taxpayers forced to foot the bill which ran into millions. He didn’t answer questions in
council meetings when he was Mayor. He was struck off as a solicitor. He has never
accepted any blame for what he did. The Election Court found him guilty of 'corrupt
and illegal practices' and the judge in that case said ‘He was not truthful. He has
proved himself almost pathologically incapable of giving a straight answer’.
Under Lutfur Rahman we have seen a cynical and secretive administration, always
blaming someone else when something is wrong. This is not leadership; it is the
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politics of victim hood. And it’s not honest. We need a Mayor that has the confidence
and strength to answer questions.
Let’s not forget the previous Mayor left vulnerable families in Bed and Breakfast
accommodation for longer than the legal limit, he charged expensive council rents
which I have reduced to genuine ‘social’ rents. He boasted about his youth service
but in reality many so-called ‘youth centres’ weren’t open and there was limited
provision for girls. He was more interested in inflating numbers for leaflets when the
reality was quite different.
Our Voluntary and Community Sector is another example where the former Mayor
left a real mess. Auditors found irregularities with organisations that didn’t even apply
for funding receiving it. We have sorted that out so public money does the most good
in our community and delivers for residents and importantly we have protected our
investment whereas most other boroughs have cut this.
Tower Hamlets faces a choice to either stay in the political mainstream or turning
away to look inwards with a party based around one man. We need a strong team
that reflects our diverse and talented borough which our Labour candidates
represent. We will continue to work with our local Labour MPs Rushanara Ali and
Apsana Begum and the Labour Mayor of London. Our community needs this united
team to face up to the challenges of continued austerity and fight our corner.
Under my leadership we’ve reached out working with other key partners and used
the office of Mayor to bring together other public services, businesses and our
Voluntary and Community Sector to really get to grips with the issues our residents
face. We have frozen the council’s portion of council tax this year to help residents
with the cost of living.
From removing a statue of a slave trader to setting up an ambitious Black Asian and
Minority Ethnic Inequalities Commission we have shown our values are ones of
fairness. We stood up to the government and won when they tried to do a cosy deal
with developers and deny our community millions of pounds for services. We are on
While the borough is changing we also think it’s important we protect and celebrate
our heritage and have refurbished the Bangla Town arch, as part of the Bangladesh
50 th celebrations unveiled a mural, named buildings after important community
figures, and paid for Bangla signage at the new Whitechapel station.
My manifesto has an ambitious plan to help our community recover from the
pandemic. We’ll get 5,000 residents into jobs or training as well as creating 1,250
apprenticeships. We will also deliver another 4,500 affordable homes.
I’m working hard for every vote. Let's not turn back the clock and put Tower Hamlets
in the headlines for the wrong reasons. Let's instead focus on getting the job done to
make Tower Hamlets cleaner, safer and fairer borough. I want to unlock
opportunity for all, help residents with the cost of living crisis and ensure the best
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start in life for our young people. No matter what your background our borough is a
place where people can improve their lives.
Let’s continue to move Tower Hamlets forward, together.