Tower Hamlets mayor awards Labour councillors pay rise for ‘special responsibilities’

Newly appointed: Cllr Denise Jones will receive £7,000 for the mayoral advisory post. Photograph: Tower Hamlets Labour

Each of Labour’s 23 councillors in Tower Hamlets will get an extra pay packet this year after Mayor John Biggs awarded them all positions of ‘special responsibility’.

The changes were agreed at the council’s annual meeting earlier this month.

Tower Hamlets’ mayor John Biggs has created three new ‘mayoral advisor’ posts, to be held by Labour councillors Helal Uddin, Dave Chesterton and Denise Jones.

Following the council meeting on Wednesday 18 May, they are to receive a further £7,000 on top of their basic allowance as councillors.

Mayor Biggs described these advisory positions as “a stepping stone to the Cabinet”.

But local Conservatives were surprised by Biggs’s remark, since one of the post-holders, Denise Jones, is a former cabinet member and leader of Tower Hamlets Council.

Cllr Chris Chapman, Deputy Leader of the Conservative group at Tower Hamlets, said: “Every Labour councillor now has a special responsibility allowance. When all the positions were allocated it left three councillors with no official position. So, lo and behold, the adviser posts were created.

“The appointment of three paid mayoral advisers described by Mayor John Biggs as ‘a stepping stone to the Cabinet’ for individuals, one of whom is a former leader of the council and cabinet member, is laughable. Labour should be ashamed of this.”

There are 23 Labour councillors in Tower Hamlets out of a total of 45, giving them a majority at the Town Hall.

Positions of special responsibility include cabinet members, scrutiny committee chairs and the speaker of the council.

Postholders carry out their special responsibilities in addition to their duties as councillors, and are paid allowances for both roles.

Cabinet members will now receive £14,000 instead of £13,065, an increase of 7 per cent.

The allowance for the Speaker of the Council has been hiked up by 28 per cent, from £7,801 to £10,000.

The council also gave the thumbs-up to an increase in the basic allowance for councillors, from £10,390 to £10,938 a year.

The new positions of special responsibility have been awarded as follows:

Mayoral advisors: Helal Uddin, Dave Chesterton, Denise Jones
Chair of Development: Marc Francis
Chair of Licensing: Rajib Ahmed
Speaker of the Council: Khales Uddin Ahmed
Deputy Speaker: Sabina Akhtar
Chair of Overview & Scrutiny Committee: John Pierce
Scrutiny Lead Members for Labour: Amina Ali (Development & renewal); Clare Harrison (Chair of Health Scrutiny); Abdul Mukit Chunu MBE (Resources).
Chief Whip and Chair of the new General Purposes, Appeals and HR Committee: Danny Hassell
Chair of Audit Committee: Candida Ronald
Chair of Pension Committee: Andrew Cregan

The Cabinet is made up of the elected Mayor and Lead Members (as appointed by the Mayor). All Cabinet members remain in post:

Housing management and performance (and statutory deputy mayor): Sirajul Islam:
Community safety and deputy mayor: Shiria Khatun
Education and children’s services, and deputy mayor: Rachael Saunders
Strategic development: Rachel Blake
Culture: Asma Begum
Resources: David Edgar
Environment: Ayas Miah
Work and economic growth: Joshua Peck
Health and adult services: Amy Whitelock Gibbs
Mayor: John Biggs