Tower Hamlets acting mayor steps down


Former Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman (left) and Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

The acting mayor of Tower Hamlets, Oliur Rahman, has stepped down this afternoon due to a conflict of interest.

Rahman took the position following the dismissal of Lutfur Rahman (no relation) last week, after he was found guilty of electoral fraud and bribery during the mayoral election in 2014.

His employer Job Centre Plus refused him permission to stand as acting mayor because he is a civil servant.

A statement from the Tower Hamlets Council said that Councillor Rahman was unable to carry on acting in place of the mayor and “by operation of law the executive powers therefore have already passed to the members of the executive collectively”.

A decision will be made at a Cabinet meeting on May 13 to choose a new acting mayor.

News of Oliur Rahman standing down comes just one day after Communities Secretary Eric Pickles gave control of Tower Hamlets to external commissioners.

He has branded the Tower Hamlets administration as “rotten” and announced on Twitter that he was putting in place measures that would “stop destruction and ensure retention of internal council documents”.

The team is expected to introduce stronger checks and balances before the mayoral by-election due to be held on June 11.

Rahman supporter John McLoughlin of the Tower Hamlets Unison says the commissioners are trying to “whip up an atmosphere that there is some kind of corrupt administration in Tower Hamlets”.

Speaking in a personal capacity and not on behalf of the council, McLoughlin also said there had been no complaints, to his knowledge, about commissioners not being given access to documents.

“If there were, I would’ve thought that the commissioners would’ve taken action about it.”

Secretary Pickles has appointed three new commissioners to oversee administrative operations in Tower Hamlets.

The council released a statement after Pickles’ announcement, stating its priority “has continued to be the provision of excellent local services to our residents”.

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