THE outgoing mayor of Tower Hamlets has said that the returning mayor Lutfur Rahman should be given a chance to deliver.
John Biggs told the BBC that Rahman will be watched like a hawk.
“I suggest people will be watching him like a hawk, but I don’t want his administration or the council to be totally dominated by that, though. I think people need to assume he has been elected on a manifesto, he has made promises, and he needs to go out and try to deliver them,” Biggs told the broadcaster.
“If he can, then great. If that’s the change people want, then great.”
Rahman, of the Aspire party, took the job of Tower Hamlets mayor from Biggs at last week’s elections.
He launched his own party after he was kicked out of office in 2015 having been found guilty of vote-rigging.
Aspire also stormed to victory over Labour on the borough’s council, winning 24 of 45 seats. Labour support was cut to 19 councillors.
Biggs had been mayor since 2015 when Rahman was removed from office. In the 2018 election, Labour won 42 council seats.
The former mayor also warned of the potential for community division, with the Bangladeshi population targeted by Aspire making up nearly a third of Tower Hamlets residents as the largest ethnic group – slightly higher than the number of “white British” residents.
“We’re potentially quite a divided community. We totally get on quite well together in Tower Hamlets but his (Rahman’s) campaign was totally focused on one community. His administration is 25 men, all from one community,” Biggs told the BBC.
“I guess that’s worrying but it shouldn’t be worrying because we’re in a multicultural community and everyone should stand up for everyone else, which is what we have tried to do in the Labour Party.”
Responding to the comments, a spokesman for Rahman said that these divisive remarks by the previous mayor illustrate why the electorate considered him unfit to lead a multicultural borough in the 21st century.
“A worldview in which ethnic minority politicians can only represent ethnic minority constituents belongs in the Stone Age. Mayor Rahman’s record of measures like university bursaries and free social care benefited everyone in our borough and the 40,000 people who voted for him last Thursday are similarly diverse,” the spokesman told the BBC.