Voters in Tower Hamlets are going to the polls to vote for a new mayor amid the backdrop of former mayor Lutfur Rahman being removed from office after being convicted of electoral fraud.
The contest is predicted to be a close race between independent candidate Rabina Khan, who has been endorsed by Lutfur Rahman, and Labour Party candidate John Biggs, who was instrumental in bringing Rahman down.
Voting will close at 10pm and the full list of mayoral candidates is:
Elaine Bagshaw, Liberal Democrats
John Biggs, Labour Party
Andy Erlam, Red Flag – Anti Corruption
John Foster, Green Party
Peter Golds, Conservative Party
Vanessa Helen Hudson, Animal Welfare Party
Hafiz Abdul Kadir, Independent
Rabina Khan, Independent
Nicholas McQueen, UKIP
Md. Motiur Rahman Nanu, Independent
The two main candidates
Mother-of-three Rabina Khan has run a campaign appealing to Lutfur Rahman’s core support whilst also quoting the “fresh face, fresh start” mantra.
In a last minute message to her supporters she said the election was likely to be close and urged people to get out and vote for her.
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She said: “Labour and the Tories support more cuts to welfare that the Children’s Society have warned will put more of our children below the breadline. This isn’t good enough. And locally, Labour and the Tories have failed to guarantee that vital support like free homecare and education grants will be kept.
“This borough can’t afford four wasted years of a Labour or Tory mayor. We have to move on from the past. I’ve got a plan to take our borough forward, and I’d like you to read it at www.rabina4mayor.com
– 5,500 new affordable homes
– Community-led regeneration to ensure we get facilities that people want and need
– New support for small businesses and a Tower Hamlets Card to keep money in the local economy
– A brand-new strategy to celebrate our arts, creativity and heritage
– People’s Question Time across the borough to open up Town Hall politics
“Let’s make this election one in which we choose, together, to stand up for stronger communities and a fairer Tower Hamlets for all.
“I can only do that with your help. Thank you for everything you’ve done so far, and please don’t forget to come out and vote on Thursday, and spread the word to friends, colleagues and family.
“This election will be close. Every single vote matters more than ever.”
Meanwhile, John Biggs said it was an honour to once again be Labour’s candidate for the mayoral election in Tower Hamlets.
He is the favourite for the race and on his website he said: “Working with local people, we have a chance to build a better future for our borough and provide leadership that once again restores the trust of the local people we’re here to serve.
“Everyone in Tower Hamlets has been let down by Lutfur Rahman, especially those who put their trust in him. It is because of the corruption and illegal practises of Lutfur Rahman that the people of Tower Hamlets will go to the polls again on 11 June to elect a new Mayor faced with the task of uniting our borough and getting on dealing with the big challenges families face in our Tower Hamlets.
“My priority will be serving local people. Faced with five more years of Tory Government, Tower Hamlets needs a Mayor who will fight to protect and improve our public services. On health, we need protect funding for health centres, GPs and services for mental health. On education, we need to keep up the pressure for excellence and improving standards across our schools, ensuring we have an inclusive vision that looks to the future.
“On housing we need a better deal for private renters, by clamping down on rogue landlords and driving up the standards in the private sector. Rents are soaring in Tower Hamlets, but too many people in our borough are working hard but can’t access the decent housing they and their family deserve. Alongside this, social landlords need to be responsive and work with residents to provide a good service to the community.
“Tower Hamlets is a borough full of creativity, enterprise and growth. As exciting as much of this change is, we have to make sure that change is for the benefit of people in Tower Hamlets – that new housing benefits local people, that new jobs provide opportunities for our young people and that economic growth benefits all.
“As Labour’s candidate for Mayor, I will serve everyone in our community and lead the borough in an open and transparent way – leadership that puts the concerns of local people first. As we face up to five more year of Tory Government, I will work tirelessly to protect the public serves we all rely upon and ensure its working families in Tower Hamlets that benefit from all the opportunity our borough provides.”