Members of the Tower Hamlets Green Party have voted “tentatively” for the Old London Hospital to be transformed into a new town hall as proposed by the Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman.
The party agreed that the move would make “effective use” of a listed building and prevent it from merely being sold off to developers to “create expensive flats inaccessible to most of the community.” It was also added that the site would be more cost-effective for Tower Hamlets Council, which currently pays £5m a year in rent to run its administration from Mulberry Place.
Rahman, who is currently on trial at a special election court in the High Court for alleged “electoral malpractice”, has been strongly criticised for his plans to convert the hospital – which currently serves no function- at a cost of £9 million.
Critics have branded the plans a “vanity project” with Labour politician and former mayoral candidate John Biggs saying: “Mr Rahman has a duty to share the options with the people of Tower Hamlets. He must demonstrate he has not wasted public money on a ‘palace’.”
A spokesperson for Tower Hamlets Green Party told ELL: “It is disingenuous to boil the case for a new town hall down to personalities. The allegations against the Mayor are of concern, but don’t avoid the above facts. The spin of “Luftur’s Palace” is merely a nice hook for the media and certain political parties.”
He added: “We share many concerns of other parties about the proposals, including on transparency of tender. But we see the proposal in general as positive… the current town hall is neither in a place that makes for useful public access, nor is it sensible economically in the long term. A permanent base in the centre of the community makes more sense in terms of accountability, communication and value.”