Of all the local elections taking place on May 22nd the one for the directly elected Mayor in Tower Hamlets will be among the most high profile. The Labour Party have as one of their targets to oust the controversial independent incumbent Lutfur Rahman. Although the Labour Party NEC member Ken Livingstone has made little secret of his support for Mr Rahman.

The Conservatives have selected Chris Wilford as their Mayoral Candidate. Mr Wilford lives in Bow and has worked as a recruitment
consultant and on education projects for both the British Council.

Mr Wilford says:

“Like so many others from around the world I have made Tower Hamlets my home. This is a great place to live, with its history, diversity, and dynamism. We are privileged to live here as we go about our business amidst the hustle and bustle of one of the world’s great cities.

“Yet there is one shadow that looms large – Mayor Lutfur Rahman. We are all familiar with his expenses, his taxis, and not least his photograph. And I for one tired of the stories of cronyism and waste whilst our borough faces up to some of the most significant challenges in the country in areas such as child poverty and unemployment.

“There are many reasons why I want to be Mayor of this borough. I want to see more transparency; more pothole repairs; cleaner streets; proper and meaningful consultation on development; a National Centre for Islamic Finance; a jobs for growth strategy; more police on our streets; fewer Mayoral advisors and a lower council tax. Above all, I want to be Mayor because I want to mend our broken local politics and build a better borough.

“I am grateful to local Conservatives for choosing me as their candidates, and will be working hard to win this May.”

He emerged from a strong field – Dr Anwara Ali a Bengali GP in Brick Lane who was a Labour councillor before defecting to the Conservatives among them.

Mr Wilford stresses “potholes and padlocks”. He rightly identifies protecting the elderly from anti social behaviour as a priority. Apart from improved security – whether more padlocks or CCTV – there should also be a tougher approach in evicting the “neighbours from Hell.”

It is not all bad news in the borough. There are already four free schools up and running with three more opening in September. Canary Wharf College was among the first free schools in the country – it opened in 2011 and has been judged “outstanding” by Ofsted. Schools opening this year include the London Enterprise Academy – which will nurture entrepreneurship. (It has secured Aneurin Bevan House in Commercial Road as its site.) The East London Arts and Music Academy offers a sixth form specialising in the creative arts has backing from music industry professionals.

The Labour Party and Mayor Rahman snipe at these schools. Mr Wilford and the Conservatives celebrate them.