Scrapped regeneration plans for Watts Grove depot in Bow will cost £300,000 of taxpayers’ money

Watts Grove Depot plans scrapped over budget fears in Bow. Pic: Robert Scarth

Watts Grove Depot plans scrapped over budget fears in Bow. Pic: Robert Scarth

A row has broken out on Tower Hamlets council over the waste of more than £300,000 of taxpayers money on a scrapped plan to build 149 new houses in Bow.

Two Labour councillors have attacked the Mayor Luftur Rahman and his cabinet for “secret’’ meetings and “letting down” families waiting for housing over the cancelled Watts Grove Depot project.

Last weeks meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee heard that £307,996 has been spent on the project, mostly on legal, financial and management advice. The project was scrapped in July this year because of the council’s need to save money.

The decision has left a number of Tower Hamlet’s Councillors angry and disappointed. Labour Councillor Motin Uz-Zaman, Chair of the committee said: “We were looking forward to these homes.”

At a previous Council meeting in September, Labour Councillors Carlo Gibbs and Khales Uddin Ahmed put forward a motion to challenge Mayor Rahman’s decision.

The motion said: “This decision was taken in secret behind closed doors and without any opportunity for scrutiny from residents or councillors as would have been the case were it made at Cabinet two days later. 20,000 residents on the housing waiting list have been thoroughly let down by the Mayor who has failed to deliver the much needed council housing he promised.”

Since the Mayor did not attend Tuesday’s meeting, Independent Councillors Alibor Choudhury, Cabinet Member for Resources, and Rabina Khan, Cabinet Member for Housing, were left to defend his decision.

Khan said it was a “very difficult decision” that had been made “due to changing circumstances imposed on the council by government.”

Choudhury said: “Continuing with the project would have clearly impaired on budget and led to us looking to make savings elsewhere – which would impact front line services…It would be sensible for us not to make that ‘black hole’ bigger.”

The Overview and Scrutiny Committee will prepare a response for submission back to the Council on 27 November.

Read ELL’s previous coverage of the re-development of Watts Grove Depot.

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