Tower Hamlets Mayor denies using community funds for election campaign
Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman has denied moving £80,000 worth of funds for community groups into an events budget to help his re-election campaign in the run-up to this May's vote.
The allegations were raised at a council Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting last week, which has asked for assurances from the Mayor he would not use the cash to fund activities before the election.
Labour's candidate for Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, said the decision to use the Community Chest fund for "community events" before the end of the financial year came in a closed door session last month.
He said: "It looks again as if Lutfur Rahman is trying to use taxpayers' money to buy votes rather than to help vital voluntary sector organisations strengthen themselves and improve services for local people.
"I know he's invented a new political party but funding a series of parties to help his election is improper."
Labour's spokesman for resources Cllr Carlo Gibbs said: "Scarce council resources should be directed towards organisations that really need it. Yet time and again we have seen Lutfur Rahman using taxpayers' money for his own political advantage.
"We are deeply concerned that instead of funding worthy causes like welfare advice centres, Rahman has decided to put all this money into a pre-election events fund."
A spokesman for the Mayor's Office denied any wrongdoing. He said: "The Community Events Fund pre-dates the mayoralty and the money is for local people to bid for and spend on small events.
"Only John Biggs could find something sinister about summer fetes and bake sales."