Lutfur Rahman: Why Tower Hamlets voters gave controversial mayor a second chance

Tower Hamlets residents explain why they voted for Lutfur Rahman to have a second chance at the mayoralty.

Lutfur Rahman's re-election to the Tower Hamlets mayoralty stunned London local politics - but not the voters who say they trust the politician.

Tower Hamlets voters pushed controversy aside to re-elect the mayor kicked out of politics seven years ago - explaining they believe he will make the borough a better place.

Mr Rahman defeated Labour incumbent John Biggs and urged the East End's voters to "judge me on what we will do for you".

He was previously forced to step down after an election court found him guilty of corrupt and illegal practices and he was banned from running for office for five years.

He faced no criminal prosecution.

Voters asked about why they voted for Mr Rahman brushed aside the past, and instead focused on the positive change they said he would bring to the area.

"We trust him and we know that he is an honest man," said one resident.

"We want work, we want change, a better Tower Hamlets," another added.

"He said he will help us with school meals and social care. I'm a carer so I'm happy with him," a resident explained.

Lutfur Rahman (right) speaks at the Tower Hamlets election count after defeating incumbent John Biggs (left) of Labour

Election commissioner Richard Mawrey made a series of findings against Mr Rahman in April 2015 following an election court trial in London.

Mr Mawrey said evidence aired at that trial had revealed an "alarming state of affairs" in Tower Hamlets.

He said his ruling meant the 2014 Tower Hamlets mayoral election was void and when the election was re-run, it was won by Mr Biggs.

Following the win on Friday, Mr Rahman hailed the "huge vote" that took him to victory – claiming he had "a bigger mandate than I had in 2014 or in 2010" as he pledged to “rebuild” the borough.

He said: "I want to rebuild Tower Hamlets, I want to invest in our future, and give our people a better future than we had in the last seven years."

Voters were impressed by some of Mr Rahman's eye-catching policies - such as building 4,000 new social homes, freezing Council Tax, and scrapping Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs).

'People will be watching him like a hawk'

Mr Rahman's party, Aspire, took overall control of the east London council as well, knocking the Labour Party's 42 seats down to just 19 and leaving just one Conservative seat.

For some, this this raised concerns about equal representation.

"Of the Aspire majority there's 24 Aspire councillors, all 24 are Bangladeshi men, that is not representative of the community at all and not representative of the Bangladeshi community which is 52% female," Tory Councillor Peter Golds told ITV News London.

But one female voter said that did not bother her, adding: "Man or woman, it doesn't matter.

"If they help us we will help them too and we'll be there for them - so it doesn't matter if it's a woman or man elected."

"He hasn't conceded that he did anything wrong, as far as I can tell and he's coming back to business as usual - I think people will be watching him like a hawk," former mayor John Biggs added.

But members of Mr Rahman's Aspire party said they would run a tight administration.

"We in Tower Hamlets are representing residents in Tower Hamlets, the whole community and we integrate and work together," said Aspire Councillor Kabir Ahmed.

Mr Rahman suggested that one of his first acts would be to scrap the controversial Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs).

He said: "Our roads have been closed, blocked up. It’s contributing to more CO2 in the borough when the idea was to reduce it.

"We’re going to look at our roads, we’re going to consult and reopen our roads."

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