John Biggs, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets. Photograph: twitter
Pay-rise: John Biggs, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets. Photograph: Dan McCurry

Tower Hamlets councillors have voted themselves an inflation-busting 5 per cent pay rise.

The increase bumps up their basic allowance from £10,390 to £10,938 a year.

The changes, put forward by the majority Labour group, also increase allowances for positions of special responsibility and the Mayor’s Allowance.

The plans were given the thumbs-up at yesterday evening’s Annual Council Meeting at the Town Hall, and came into effect today (19 May).

Cllr Peter Golds, Leader of Tower Hamlets Conservatives, has received a 40 per cent increase in his Special Responsibility Allowance (SRA) from £5,709 to £8,000.

Leader of the Independent Group Cllr Oliur Rahman will see his allowance jump from £10,502 to £11,300.

Mayor John Biggs was due an extra £7,906 as his pay was to rise from £67,094 to £75,000. But he has announced he will only accept half of this increase, making an allowance of £71,047.

Questions have been raised over whether the pay rises are too generous.

Local anti-corruption campaigner Cathy Holmes said: “It’s disgusting. They get paid enough for what they do. They should sort everything else out before give themselves pay rises.

“The council needs to get its priorities and finances in order first. There are loads of issues, from the bottom to the top, [for example] payments to charities that don’t exist any more. These things are just being swept under the carpet.

“The commissioners are still in place in the council so there are obviously still problems.”

Commenting on Mayor Biggs accepting only half his pay rise, Ms Holmes said the gesture was “not enough”.

The plans are designed to ensure allowances “better reflect the workloads and responsibilities of members from all parties”, the council papers state.

Andy Erlam, the lead election petitioner in the Tower Hamlets fraud case, said: “I think it stinks!”

Under the new scheme an allowance for designated mayoral advisers has been created (£7,000) and the number of SRAs for leading scrutiny committee members have been cut. The Mayoral Advisors are Helal Uddin, Dave Chesterton and Denise Jones.

The changes may come as a surprise to members of Tower Hamlets Independent Group. In 2011 the then Mayor Lutfur Rahman (Independent Group) had his salary slashed from £75,000 to £65,000 after the Labour party put forward an amendment to have it cut.

Positions of special responsibility include cabinet member and committee chair roles.

Details of the changes can be found in the council agenda papers.

Tower Hamlets Council was approached for comment and had not responded at time of publication.

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3 Comments

  1. I am quoting your report:

    “Tower Hamlets Council was approached for comment and had not responded at time of publication.”

    I wonder why!
    Is that, could that be, related to a lack of staff dealing with your approach?

    May be John Biggs has had to ‘delete’ some staff as part of the new “Communications Strategy” he reportedly said he was working on.

    I think also that Peter Golds’ acceptance of the rise in his allowances is particularly remarkable.

    The word in the Community is that Peter Golds has been ‘befriended’ – strictly Party Politically, of course, by elements that need the Community in Tower Hamlets to not say much about what the “executive mayor” governance with the Peoples’ Money!

    But the facts of how much money is being stolen under covers of plausible-looking headlines can only be gleaned from a transparent regime, which Tower Hamlets Council Regime most definitely is NOT

    As Ethically Democratically investigative members of the Community know, Tower Hamlets Council is one of the worst local Borough Council when it comes to transparency.

    And contrary to certain people who still believe that “the Commissioners” are
    making the crucial difference, I have to say that the Commissioners are NOT doing so.

    While I accept the Commissioners are not welcome by the Biggs Regime, that does not mean that the Commissioners are engaged in making the qualitative difference in the standard of Tower Hamlets Council’s governance.

    The core of the Controlling Clique that has for years been denying the Community the transparency, the accountability that the Community deserve is still in place and in power.

    Biggs has not shown he even understands the facts or the magnitude of those.

    Biggs has also not shown that he even cares.

    And in his attitude, Biggs is confirming all the wrong things that
    are foisted on the local community when an executive mayor is give the post.

    What he has thus been prioritising is securing his “Mayor” position. That he has been able to do by “strategically” spreading privilege and patronage among those he thinks he needs the support of for his career.

    On the other side, he has been doing what he was accused of in advance of his “election” which he “won” only because of the widespread view that “things needed to change” in Tower Hamlets Council.

    Since he began his “speaking mayor” career, John Biggs has mouthed probably the longest list of plastic words that have ever been spoken from a spot in Tower Hamlets Council.

    He “believes” or he mouths as if he does actually believe that he “owns” the credit for all the Campaigns and battles for rights that people in the Community have been fighting since way before he EVER physically materialised in Tower Hamlets.

    Thus when Andy Erlam says about the Biggs Regime that “it stinks”, it truly does.

    Which raises the Question:

    How many times has Andy Erlam tried to extract information from anyone in Tower Hamlets Council since Biggs “got in”?

    Has Andy Erlam himself been BLOCKED by anyone in the Council?
    If so, will Erlam share the experience with your readers?

    What recent direct evidence has Andy Erlam to share with your readers and via your outlet the wider Community in Tower Hamlets and the East End of HOW the tactics of the “Biggs Regime” are, in effect, CONTINUING the worst of the practices that Tower Hamlets Council was widely condemned for over the previous years?

    What do Andy Erlam’s co-Petitioners make of the Biggs Regime?

    Do they still say that Tower Hamlets is not a “rotten borough” any more?

    One Andy Erlam’s co-Petitioners said at the “Press conference” held immediately after the Mawrey ruling on 23 April 2015 that from that moment on, Tower Hamlets was not
    a “rotten borough”.

    I asked them to elaborate at the time.

    They didn’t.

    What do they say now?

    1300 Hrs GMT London Friday 20 May 2016

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