Tower Hamlets' Mayor in taxi fare row

By Simon Hayes on April 21, 2011 12:07 PM |

lutfurrahman.jpgThe Mayor of Tower Hamlets and his team have spent over £2,000 of taxpayers money on taxi fares in the first nine months in office.

Lutfur Rahman, who became the borough's first directly elected mayor last May, and two other leading council members claimed £2,191.04 in fares to take them to and from official engagements up to the end of February.

It has provoked the ire of opposition Conservative councillors, who have asked the Mayor to justify the expense when Tower Hamlets Council faces cutting back on its expenditure.

Clltr Peter Golds, leader of the Conserevative group, said: "Administration members driving around in taxis when they have cars and the right to park in both residents bays and Civic buildings throughout the borough, is ridiculous.

"For a council which constantly complains about 'cuts' and has reserves of over £68 million, why is the leadership wasting this money on taxi fares?"

Mr Rahman's spokesman said: "Travelling across the borough to meet residents, local businesses, partner organisations and other members of the community is an essential part of the mayor's day-to-day role.

"He therefore often has no option but to work whilst on the move and using taxis is an efficient way of doing just that - just as many other elected mayors or council leaders in other areas do.

"The mayor's office regularly reviews the situation and will look at the most effective methods for enabling the mayor to travel to appointments across the borough."

Mr Rahman, who stood as an independent candidate after being deselected by the Labour Party last year, is paid £65,000 a year and owns a car which he is entitled to park for free in certain parts of the borough.

Cllr Golds has asked for further details of hirings and journeys, as well as the amount paid to taxis to wait.