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Labour loses east London council to Aspire party

Votes being counted at the Tower Hamlets Council count at Canary Wharf (Aaron Chown/PA)
Votes being counted at the Tower Hamlets Council count at Canary Wharf (Aaron Chown/PA)

A political party formed by a controversial politician has taken control of an east London council.

The Aspire Party, founded by Lutfur Rahman, gained Tower Hamlets Council from Labour after winning 24 of the 45 seats.

The Labour Party – which previously held 42 seats – secured 19 seats, while the Green Party won nine and the Conservatives won one.

Lutfur Rahman (left) was elected mayor, defeating incumbent John Biggs (right) of Labour (Aaron Chown/PA)
Lutfur Rahman, left, was elected mayor, defeating incumbent John Biggs (Aaron Chown/PA)

Following the declaration, the party tweeted: “It’s official. Aspire gain control of Tower Hamlets. Aspire now hold overall majority over the council. Thank you to all the residents, well wishers and volunteers for their unwavering support.”

On Friday, Mr Rahman defeated Labour incumbent John Biggs to become the elected mayor of Tower Hamlets.

Mr Rahman 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.

But he faced no criminal prosecution.

On Friday, after being elected mayor of Tower Hamlets on the second round, Mr Rahman urged people to “judge me on what we will do for you”.

Mr Rahman won 40,804 votes, with Mr Biggs on 33,487.

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” and pledged to “rebuild” the borough.

Local government elections
Lutfur Rahman (second left) and John Biggs (third right) waiting for the results (Aaron Chown/PA)

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.”

Pointing to his time in the role, he said: “Judge me and my administration on our record, what we’ve delivered in the first term.

“The only borough in the country to have free homecare. We delivered the London living wage – the first in London – we delivered the university bursary, educational maintenance allowance.

“Our promises going forward are even more progressive. Judge me on what we will do for you.”

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