Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman has welcomed the final report of the Boundary Commission for England which sets out the new electoral arrangements for the Council.
The report has incorporated final changes which had been backed by Mayor Rahman and which sought both to protect the Labour and Christian heritage of Tower Hamlets and to acknowledge more recent changes to the population.
Mayor Rahman had sent his own submissions to the Boundary Commission and Secretary of State, but he has also been helping constituents make their own submissions. The final report has made two key changes.
The historic ward names of St Dunstan’s and Lansbury are back.
Mayor Rahman was of course a longstanding Labour Party member until party bosses over-ruled local members who had asked him to be Labour’s candidate for Mayor. Mayor Rahman was clearly delighted by the decision, stating: “I am pleased that the historic contribution of East End and Labour movement icon, George Lansbury, has been reinstated along with St Dunstan’s – a name that means so much to Stepney residents. I could never understand why the Labour group sought to get rid of it.’’
Cllr Ohid Ahmed, Deputy Mayor and ward Councillor for East India and Lansbury, echoed Mayor Rahman’s delight that the name of former Labour Party leader George Lansbury was to be retained in the Borough’s electoral geography. Cllr Ahmed said: “George Lansbury was a dedicated campaigner for social justice and I’m glad that his legacy will continue to be honoured on the map of Tower Hamlets.”
Banglatown has been restored as a ward name in the Spitalfields area.
The local Conservative Party had proposed that “Banglatown” be removed from the ward’s name. “Banglatown” was added relatively recently to mark the fact that the ward is the hub of the Bangladeshi community in Tower Hamlets and the UK. Adding the name is not just a mark of respect for the most recently arrived community in the Spitalfields area, it is also an acknowledgement of the way in which the community has fitted in to the Borough, setting up a successful commercial area which is both integral to the local economy and which also respects the community’s distinct heritage.
Mayor Rahman responded to the news by saying, “I’m delighted that the Commission has rejected these divisive proposals and reinstated Banglatown on the electoral map. I’m proud to have led a campaign that has seen local people standing together to defend the modern inclusive borough that we take pride in. I’m grateful to everyone who has supported us. This is truly a victory for community spirit.”
The Boundary Commission’s report will be endorsed by Parliament and its changes will start at the May 2014 elections.
The main change, apart from the ward names, will be that there will only be 45 councillors, a reduction of six on the present arrangements. It is thought that the main political parties in the Borough will find it hard to cope with the new numbers as they seek to accommodate sitting councillors who wish to stand again, longstanding local candidates and party activists who have worked hard with a view to being selected as candidates in 2014.