Tower Hamlets London Borough Council

All of the seats in Tower Hamlets were up for election this year. Find out more about these elections.

Election 2018 Results

LAB GAIN FROM NOC
Party Elected in 2018 Total councillors Change

PartyLabour

Elected in 2018 42 Total councillors 42 Change+20

PartyConservative

Elected in 2018 2 Total councillors 2 Change-3

PartyIndependent

Elected in 2018 1 Total councillors 1 Change-17
Councillors change compared with 2014

Most Recent

  1. Campaigners take council to court over mulberry tree

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    Bethnal Green Mulberry Tree

    Campaigners backed by Dame Judy Dench are taking a council to the High Court in a bid to save the East End’s oldest tree.

    Developers want to move the Bethnal Green Mulberry Tree, which survived the Great Fire of London and being bombed during the Blitz, to make way for a block of flats – a decision Dame Dench said fills her “with horror”.

    Edmund Bonner, who was Bishop of London during the reign of Henry VIII, is said to have planted the famous black mulberry tree more than 400 years ago in his gardens next to what is now Victoria Park.

    The tree was later incorporated into the grounds of what became the former London Chest Hospital, where it survived being bombed down to almost a stump in 1941 in an explosion which killed 30 people.

    But Tower Hamlets council has granted planning permission for the site to be turned into almost 300 flats.

    Developer Crest Nicholson said it will dig up and replant the elderly tree at the front of the development.

    However campaigners say the move will kill the black mulberry, which is already split and scared.

    Dame Judy Dench said: “The thought of the 400-year-old Bethnal Green Mulberry Tree being dug up to build a block of flats fills me with horror. This pandemic has taught us that we should respect nature not destroy it."

    Nurses from the London Chest Hospital

    The East End Preservation Society and chair of the East London Garden Society Geoffrey Juden have been fighting for more than three years to save the tree and have now been granted a judicial review to challenge the council’s decision to grant planning permission.

    They have raised more than £10,000 to fund the legal action. Those donating more than £100 receive a cutting of Shakespeare’s Mulberry Tree, which was planted in Stratford Upon Avon by the poet in 1610.

    Mr Juden said they were "overjoyed that our case has been granted a Judicial Review by the High Court".

    “We understand there is currently a pressing need for genuinely affordable housing in Bethnal Green but we also recognise a responsibility to future generations," he said.

    Crest Nicholson has said it wants to bring the currently “derelict site” back to active use and there will be “extensive tree planting” in the new development.

    The Mulberry tree will be picked up by the entire root base of the tree and “replanted it in its entirety”.

    Cuttings from the Mulberry will be donated to schools and communities.

    A Tower Hamlets council spokesman said the tree would be moved to the front lawn of the new development where it could be accessed and seen by the public.

    A spokesman added: “The council will be defending its decision in the High Court.”

  2. Vaccine given to 101-year-old Covid fundraiser

    A 101-year-old man who raised more than £229,000 for coronavirus relief in May has received the first dose of the vaccine.

    Dabirul Islam Choudhury

    Tower Hamlets resident Dabirul Islam Choudhury, from St Albans, challenged himself to walk 100 laps of his garden while fasting for Ramadan in May.

    He raised funds to help people affected by coronavirus in the UK and Bangladesh.

    Mr Choudhury said he felt "incredibly grateful".

    "My advice to anyone is to get vaccinated as soon as you’re offered.

    "I am 101-years-old. If I feel safe about getting the vaccine, I hope it will give other people confidence in getting it too," he said.

    Tower Hamlets GP Care Group has vaccinated over 9,000 people in groups one and two of the vaccination priority list, said the borough's council.

  3. Covid-19: Police issue £39,000 fines in one weekend

    Police on patrol with Hackney Council enforcement team

    Fines worth £39,000 were given out in Tower Hamlets and Hackney in two days for breaches of coronavirus regulations.

    The Metropolitan Police say they issued more than 140 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) at the weekend.

    Officers were called to a range of gatherings including a party of 40 people in Brick Lane, and a queue at a bubble tea shop which attracted up to 80 people in Tower Hamlets.

    Acting Chief Inspector Pete Shaw, said: “We are almost twelve months into this global pandemic and frankly the rules we must all follow have never been clearer.

    "It is safe to assume that the people who broke the rules this weekend did so willingly and in doing so, put their lives and those of their community at risk."

    Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney, said: We will continue working with our partners in the police to reduce the spread of coronavirus and to help keep Hackney safe, but residents and businesses all have a duty to do their bit too."

  4. Nine arrested for drug offences in dawn raids

    Police arrested nine men for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs offences during a series of dawn raids.

    Officers raided 17 addresses across Tower Hamlets on 16 December, following "an intelligence-led" operation.

    Nine males - aged between 23-55 years old - on suspicion of drugs offences.

    All are in custody at an east London police station, pending further enquiries.

    Det Insp Sean Lyons said: “These arrests once again serve as evidence of the success of this ongoing investigation in disrupting drug-related criminality across Tower Hamlets and Hackney.

    “We have made it quite clear that drug dealing and associated criminality has absolutely no place within our local communities."

    Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said: “We know that our residents are concerned about crime, which has continued throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, especially drug dealing and taking.

    “Our community safety operations help to make Tower Hamlets a safer borough and will continue to target those intent on breaking the law.”

  5. Fears Chinese Embassy site could unearth plague burial ground

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    Fears that China’s plans to build its largest European embassy in east London could unearth the bodies of thousands of bubonic plague victims have been raised with Historic England.

    Beijing bought the former Royal Mint site near the Tower of London for £250 million in 2018 and started consulting with residents last month.

    It wants to create a “welcoming public face for China”, with office space and staff accommodation, having outgrown its current embassy in Marylebone.

    The Royal Mint was built in 1809 on the site of the Cistercian abbey of St Mary Graces, the cemetery of which contained mass graves for victims of the Black Death.

    Today councillors in Tower Hamlets raised concerns that China’s plans to build secure basements and underground meeting rooms will disturb bodies and the abbey’s foundations.

    Cllr Peter Golds said: “This is a site of major historical importance. My concern is that across this site will be foundations and artefacts… and the burial sites of victims of the Black Death.”

    The Black Death is the deadliest plague in human history killing up to 200 million people worldwide.

    It is thought to have reached England in June 1348 in sailors who arrived at Weymouth from France and hit London in the Autumn, claiming the lives of 30 to 50 per cent of residents.

    Part of the Royal Mint site was excavated between 1986 and 1988, uncovering three mass burial trenches with 762 bodies.

    Mr Golds added: “Only part of the site has been excavated and I am therefore asking Historic England undertakes a full and proper survey of the site to ensure the former Abbey foundations are protected for future generations.

    “Furthermore I hope that an investigation is undertaken to see if the proposed developments impede on the unexcavated burial sites.

    “If so, steps should be taken to remove remains with care and dignity.”

    Mr Golds added: “Only part of the site has been excavated and I am therefore asking Historic England undertakes a full and proper survey of the site to ensure the former abbey foundations are protected for future generations.”

    Plague burial site near Liverpool Street in east London
    Image caption: In 2016 a plague burial site containing 3,500 bodies was unearthed near to Liverpool Street a mile away

    Historic England confirmed that the Greater London Archaeological Advisory Service was contacted for pre-application advice.

    “Any advice Historic England provide in pre-application stage is confidential,” it said.

    But added that the archaeology at the site was “highly important” and had been included in the same Tier 1 Archaeological Priority Area as the Tower of London and the former Royal Mint building itself is Grade II* listed.

    “We are in contact with the prospective applicants, and have emphasised the importance of preserving the intact Abbey remains, identifying and tightly limiting any impacts to the surviving mediaeval burials, and undertaking thorough archaeological investigation and recording,” a spokesman said.

    “The proposals for the site are at pre-application stage, and we will continue to advise on the impact on key historic elements both above and below ground as the plans for a new embassy develop, to minimise harm and maximise understanding of the site’s rich history.”

    It comes as China’s reported persecution of Uighur Muslims has also led to opposition to the embassy in Tower Hamlets, which has one of the largest Muslim populations in the UK.

    China’s ambassador Liu Xiaoming wrote to the borough’s mayor John Biggs last month to say he believes councillors are “attempting to disrupt” the project.

    A council spokesman said: “The redevelopment of the historic former Royal Mint site is important for Tower Hamlets as well as the rest of the country.”

    The Chinese embassy was contacted for comment.

  6. Row breaks out over Wapping Chinese Embassy plans

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    Proposed embassy

    A furious row has broken out over China’s plans to build its largest European embassy in east London as the first consultations on the project begin.

    China sent letters to local residents in Wapping the weekend explaining its plans for the embassy, cultural centre, office space and staff accommodation on the former Royal Mint site.

    However, China’s ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming has written to Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs to say he believes councillors are “attempting to disrupt” the new embassy.

    He expressed his “grave concern” over a motion due to be discussed at a full council meeting this week regarding the Chinese treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang and new laws in Hong Kong.

    The motion, proposed by Liberal Democrat councillor Rabina Khan and Conservative Peter Golds, asks that the council publicly raise its opposition of Muslim prisoners with the UK and Chinese Governments.

    Ms Khan said it was important the motion was heard at full council and Mr Xiaoming’s letter was publicly published.

    "We must call out the contents of the letters from the Chinese Embassy and set the record straight," she said.

    China bought the Royal Mint for £250m in 2018. The site sits towards the end of Cable Street, which has been a symbol of anti-racism after East End residents halted a march of fascists through Stepney in 1936.

    Mr Biggs said: ‘’We are an open and tolerant place here in the East End. And we want to be good partners and support good relationships.

    But I and many in our community are very concerned about China’s human rights record on a number of issues, and... it’s right that the Chinese government are challenged on this".

    A council spokesman added: “The redevelopment of the historic former Royal Mint site is important for Tower Hamlets as well as the rest of the country.”

    The Chinese Embassy did not respond to request for comment.

  7. Referendum to scrap mayoralty system will be held in May

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    Tower Hamlets, which was rocked by a vote-rigging scandal and accusations of fraud under its disgraced former mayor Lutfur Rahman, will hold a referendum next year on scrapping the elected mayoral system.

    The council in east London, where Mr Rahman was accused of illegal practices and banned from holding office, is set to hold a vote on changing to the ‘leader and cabinet’ model in May next year.

    Elected mayors hold more power than traditional council leaders because they can approve major plans alone without support from other elected councillors.

    In 2015 an election court found Mr Rahman guilty of intimidation, vote-rigging and wrongly smearing his Labour rival as a racist in order to hold on to power.

    He was removed from office and banned from standing for election for five years.

    This week the local Labour group triggered a referendum after a proposal put forward by the current mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs.

    It followed Mr Biggs surrendering most of his executive powers at a cabinet meeting earlier this month.

    He said: “It’s been over 10 years since Tower Hamlets voted to adopt the mayoral system in a referendum. A lot has happened during this last decade, and a significant part of my time as mayor has been spent undoing the damage done by my predecessor.”

    The position was introduced in England in 2000 and adopted by more than a dozen local authorities as well as Manchester and London.

  8. London areas to receive Covid-19 mass testing kits

    Twenty one areas in London are to get mass testing for coronavirus.

    The kits, which can deliver results within 15 minutes, are being rolled out to select areas across the country.

    Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the tests would help to detect asymptomatic cases.

    The areas in London getting the kits are:

    Barking and Dagenham, Bexley, Brent, Camden, City of London, Enfield, Greenwich, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Kingston upon Thames, Lambeth, Lewisham, Newham, Redbridge, Richmond, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest and Wandsworth.

  9. Man dies in east London fire

    Ellsworth Street, Bethnal Green,

    A man has died during a flat fire in east London.

    Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus found the unnamed man at a property on Ellsworth Street, Bethnal Green, during the early hours of Monday morning but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

    The London Fire Brigade was called at 03.46 GMT and the fire was under control by 04.09.

    About 20 firefighters attended the blaze which damaged part of a first floor flat.

    The cause of the fire is under investigation.

  10. Tower Hamlets mayor gives up executive powers

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    The directly elected mayor of Tower Hamlets last night surrendered many of his executive powers after petitions to change the way the borough is governed were set up.

    John Biggs told the cabinet meeting he will make decisions collectively with senior councillors, rather than taking actions alone.

    Tower Hamlets is one of four London boroughs to elect a mayor, who have more power than traditional council leaders because they can approve major plans alone.

    Mr Bigg’s announcement comes after two petitions were set up to scrap the mayor system in the borough and the news neighbouring Newham council will hold a referendum on swapping from the elected mayor to the committees system in May next year.

    Mr Biggs said: “We now have collective decision making in the cabinet. In cabinet meetings we will be making collective decisions rather than me listening to my cabinet members and heeding advise and making an individual decision as executive mayor.

    “It will mean members will be making collective decisions rather than advising me.”

    Lutfur Rahman became Tower Hamlets’ first elected mayor in 2010. He was removed from office in 2015 for corrupt and illegal practices during the 2014 mayoral race.

    He was replaced by Labour’s Mr Biggs.

    The Localism Act 2011 permits a referendum to be held to change the system of governance in a local authority if five percent of the electorate petition the council.

  11. Third Covid-19 testing site for Tower Hamlets to open

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    A third Covid-19 testing centre will open tomorrow in Tower Hamlets after London was put into the Government’s high-risk tier.

    The facility in Jack Dash House on the Isle of Dogs follows the opening of test sites in the Watney Market Ideas Store and Mile End Arts Pavilion.

    The borough recorded 316 new coronavirus infections and 97 cases per 100,000 people between October 6 and 12.

    Residents with coronavirus symptoms should book an appointment online before attending the new testing centre, the council said.

  12. London school pollution drops 95% in four years

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    The number of London schools with illegally toxic air has dropped dramatically since 2016 – down 95 per cent in four years.

    More than two million Londoners lived in areas over the legal limit for air pollution four years ago, but that figure is down 94 per cent to 119,000 people.

    Just 25 schools had illegal levels of dirty air last year – dropping from 671 in 2016 – and there are now no outer London schools in highly toxic areas.

    London pollution

    Six inner London boroughs – Lambeth, Westminster, Tower Hamlets, Camden, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Islington – still have state schools that breach the limits.

    The main pollutants in the capital are nitrogen dioxide, a byproduct of diesel engines, and particulate matter, micro-dust that can penetrate the lungs and enter the bloodstream.

    Both can cause stunted lung growth in children and worsen chronic illnesses like asthma and heart disease.

  13. 'Problems remain with coronavirus testing in London'

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    Workers with Covid symptoms in east London are facing huge delays to find out if they are positive for the virus, it has been claimed.

    Tests at walk in or drive in facilities are still regularly not available on the Government website, local politicians said.

    Some workers have complained of waiting for up to a week for results or never receiving home testing kits, which are sent out by Amazon and Royal Mail.

    It comes as the NHS Test and Trace system shows 19,278 new people tested positive for the virus between 10-16 September – almost three times the number at the end of August.

    According to the latest Government figures it takes an average of 75 hours for someone who takes a home test to get their result.

    Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said the council had written to the government to demand more testing capacity as cases continue to rise in east London, putting the area at risk of local lockdowns.

    “Looking online when trying to book a test on the government website you are simply told ‘this service is currently very busy’ and to ‘try again in a few hours,” he said.

    “This is totally unacceptable and undermines all our work in encouraging residents to get tested. If residents think they have the virus they are now left in a very difficult position.

    "We are particularly worried about the impact on keyworkers and as a very diverse area we are concerned that the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 could hit our community hard.

    "Headteachers and parents are concerned about the impact on school attendance. We need the government to take steps now to support our schools who are on the frontline.”

    A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “Thousands of tests are taking place every day across London’s dozens of sites and it would be wrong to suggest otherwise.

    “NHS Test and Trace is providing tests at an unprecedented scale – 225,000 a day on average over the last week – with the vast majority of people getting tested within six miles of their home.

    “We are targeting testing capacity at the areas that need it most, including those where there is an outbreak, and prioritising at-risk groups.”

  14. Guard of honour for centenarian firefighter

    Ernie Cock guard of honour

    A former firefighter received a guard of honour through the streets of east-London for his 100th birthday.

    Ernie Cock joined the National Fire Service in 1946 and then transferred to Brigade.

    He served the majority of his career at Poplar fire station in Tower Hamlets.

    Serving officers formed a guard of honour as Mr Cock walked through the streets near his Romsey home.

    Mayor of London Sadiq Khan thanked Mr Cock for his service in a tweet.

    Ernie Cock