The Conservative group in Tower Hamlets has submitted the following motion to be debated at the next council meeting on January 25. (However, they fully expect council legal chief Isabella Freeman to block it even making the agenda.)
Motion on Cllr Shelina Aktar (AKA Shelina Akhtar)
Proposer: Cllr Peter Golds
Seconder: Cllr Tim Archer
This Council Notes:
- That incidents of fraud and dishonesty in public life in the United Kingdom are relatively rare and that when proven both political parties and the relevant body, whether it be national or local take appropriate action, as was seen in the recent expenses scandal where all parties suspended recalcitrant members.
- That Councillor Shelina Aktar, who as a matter of record altered the spelling of her name following her election to the council in 2010, was in July 2010 convicted of benefit fraud, under the name of Shelina Akhtar.
- In January 2012 she pleaded guilty to further fraud and is to be sentenced in February 2012.
This Council Believes:
- That it is wrong for such a person to vote on matters that would affect the lives and well being of the overwhelmingly law abiding citizens of this borough.
- That according to time sheets and other information, that Cllr Aktar is a regular attendee of group meetings involving the Independent mayoral supporting members and regularly attends “mayoral engagements” including six hours of such engagements in December 2011.
This Council Resolves:
- To suspend the membership of Cllr Aktar for this meeting and all other meetings until she is sentenced and further consideration of appropriate action can be made in light of the judicial sentence.
- To call upon the Mayor to disassociate himself from Cllr Aktar and confirm publicly that she will not be invited to join him on further “mayoral engagements”.
For the record, the Tories have also submitted the following questions for the Members’ question time section:
Cllr Peter Golds
Does the Mayor support the government’s announcement that it will seek to criminalise sub-letting of socially rented property?
Cllr Zara Davis
Why has the Mayor ignored the motion agreed by Full Council in September 2011, which resolved that “Sir John McDougal Gardens, Millwall Park and Island Gardens will remain solely for the use of residents and community groups for the purposes of recreation, leisure and sports?”
Cllr David Snowdon
Will the Mayor please outline what measures he is taking to promote the teaching of history in Tower Hamlets schools?
Cllr Gloria Thienel
Considering the rising incidents of metal theft from public memorials; how many incidents of metal theft from a public memorial in Tower Hamlets has taken place in the last year, will the Mayor please inform the Council what measures he has taken to ensure that war memorials are protected in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets?
Cllr Craig Aston
Will the Mayor provide an update on energy efficiency in the Town Hall building?
Cllr Tim Archer
Will the Mayor provide an update on the progress of the motion agreed by full council on 15 September 2010, to bring the Henry Moore statue back to the borough and explain to the council why this is taking so long, what meetings/discussions have taken place and will the statue be back in time for the Olympics?
Cllr Dr Emma Jones
How many people sacked from Tower Hamlets employment have accidentally continued to be paid in the past year?
The Tories have also submitted the following other motions:
Education in Tower Hamlets
Proposer: Cllr Zara Davis
Seconder: Cllr Dr Emma Jones
This Council notes:
- That the Secretary of State for Education has recently approved the creation of three new free schools in Tower Hamlets which will be run by The Constable Education Trust, the Wapping and Shadwell Secondary Education Trust and City Gateway, all of which will open free schools in September 2012
- That the severe shortage of school places in Tower Hamlets is such that:
- According to the borough’s own projections, at primary school level an additional 16 form entries are required in Tower Hamlets primary schools between the academic year 2011/12 and 2012/13 to cope with the projected increase in population in the borough
- At secondary school level, the number of students will increase from 12,987 (2009/10 roll number) to 16,314 by 2020, thereby requiring an additional 110 form entries.
- It is already the case that for 301 children in Tower Hamlets, the nearest school available to them is so far away that the Council has to provide them with Home-School transport. 
- The number of children requiring Home-School transport on distance grounds has trebled in the last two years, and it is forecasted to increase to 500 pupils in the next three years.
This Council believes:
- That giving schools independence helps to raise standards, as recognised by a recent OECD report which states: “where schools have greater autonomy over what is taught and how students are assessed, students tend to perform better”
- That free schools will therefore help to raise standards in Tower Hamlets, both in the free schools themselves as well as in neighbouring schools which will be spurred on to achieve higher standards
- That free schools will increase the choice available to parents and pupils, with the three new free schools in Tower Hamlets going far beyond the National Curriculum, e.g. the Constable Education Trust Primary School with modern foreign languages; Wapping High will offer an extended school day with 34 hours of teaching a week and the opportunity for a variety of enrichment activities etc.
- That free schools will also help to alleviate some of the pressure on school places in Tower Hamlets
Therefore, this Council resolves:
- To welcome and support the creation of free schools in Tower Hamlets, which will be attended by hundreds of pupils from our borough
- To actively co-operate with and support free schools on matters such as finding premises.
Proposer: Cllr Tim Archer
Seconder: Cllr David Snowdon
This Council Notes:
- The Coalition Government plans to deal with Troubled Families is a much welcomed step in the right direction.
- Currently the government spends £9 billion a year on Troubled Families, with only £1 billion a year going to turning Troubled Families around.
- Each Troubled Family costs £75,000 a year.
- The London Borough of Tower Hamlets has 1,120 Troubled Families, the highest of any London Borough.
- This means £84 million is spent each year on Troubled Families in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
This Council Believes:
- The creation of a new Troubled Families team at the Department for Communities and Local Government.
This Council Resolves:
- To support the setting up of a national network of Troubled Families ‘Trouble Shooters’.
- To work with the Coalition government on this plan and to start to turn around the lives of London Borough of Tower Hamlets residents who live in Troubled Families.