“STAGGERING INCOMPETENCE” is how Cllr Rabina Khan has described John Biggs’s Draft Tower Hamlets Local Plan. “Brexit,” Cllr Khan told London Bangla. “Brexit. He’s forgotten about Brexit. Can you believe it? It’s not exactly a secret, Brexit, is it?”
The Tower Hamlets Local Plan is intended to guide development in the borough over the next ten to 15 years.
Cllr Khan points out that the latest draft of the document predicts that there will be continued growth in and around Canary Wharf – with a further 125,000 additional jobs being created over the lifetime of the Plan. The calculations appear to rely on economic analysis by the Greater London Authority (GLA) – but that research was conducted before the referendum which mandated the Government to withdraw the UK from the EU.
There is only a single reference to Brexit in the Plan which, the document acknowledges, “may” have an impact “on the role of London as a financial service hub for Europe”. If companies continue to leave Canary Wharf, it is not only their jobs which will be lost – Brexit puts many more jobs in retail, hospitality and leisure at risk too.
Cllr Khan, who is the leader of the opposition People’s Alliance Group, said, “This is unbelievable. Not a week goes by without another of our borough’s largest and most powerful employers announcing moves to Frankfurt or Dublin. Where has this staggeringly incompetent mayor been for the last 18 months?”
The question is all the more pertinent given that Cllr Khan first raised the impact of Brexit at the Council’s Overview & Scrutiny Committee on 14th September. It is not clear why her comments did not at least prompt someone in the Administration to have a quick thumb through the Plan and think about a last minute addition.
A second round of consultation on the Local Plan ended on Monday. However, with the Plan itself running to 237 pages and coming along with a further 900 pages of supporting documents, it is not light reading. It is thought that few residents will have ploughed through the paperwork and sent in responses.