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Liveable Streets – Is it fair?

Liveable Streets road blocks Pic: Cllr Puru Miah
Liveable Streets road blocks Pic: Cllr Puru Miah

Details of new Cross-Party Inquiry in Tower Hamlets

Ten years ago the Single Equalities Act was passed by Parliament, simplifying the law by bringing together all anti-discrimination laws and creating a public sector duty to tackle entrenched discrimination. It was hailed at the time as the biggest idea in progressive politics for the decade, as a move by the political class to tackle discrimination in our society in a practical and effective manner. Giving members of the public an effective tool to hold public bodies, like authorities to account and ask with the aid of the law courts, have their actions been fair?

A decade later, today in Tower Hamlets the Single Equalities Act came to the fore, when on the 28th of January 2021, over 2,000 residents signed a petition, complaining that Tower Hamlets Council, and it’s contractor, PCL Consult have not been fair with residents in regard to Liveable Streets, in terms of the process of consultation and implementation. Residents in the petition stated that they were discriminated, directly and indirectly, discriminated on the basis of their protective characteristics. The Act in Chapter 2, section 1, defines those as, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.

Taking up the case of the petitioners, I, along with Cllr. Rabina Khan and Cllr. Andrew Wood have decided to set up a cross-party Inquiry to look into residents grievances, at different intervals, in different areas of Tower Hamlets. The inquiry when looking at testimonies from residents will seek to answer the following questions:

1. Was there direct discrimination?

2. Was there indirect discrimination?

3. Was there a breach of contract by PCL Consult?

4. Are Tower Hamlets Council in breach of their Public Sector Equalities Duty?

5. How do residents view and use their local streets in light of the Covid-19 pandemic? How do they intend to use them in a post Covid-19 world?

We have proposed the following timetable for the inquiry, with online meetings via the zoom platform:

Date 

Area 

Time

Thursday 25th February 2021

Wapping

7:00 pm

Thursday 18th March 2021

Bethnal Green (Weavers & St. Peters)

7:00 pm

Thursday 8th April 2021

Bow

7:00 pm

Thursday 20th May 2021

Whitechapel & Shadwell

7:00 pm

The intention is to produce a report with findings and recommendations and to then present them to the full council, 

For me personally, the inquiry is in the spirit of the Russell Tribunal set up by the Philosophers Bertrand Russell and Jean-Paul Sartre in 1966 to look into allegations of war crimes during the Vietnam War. The Russell Tribunal at the time was a revolutionary idea, of dispassionately looking at a major issue outside the framework of an administrative state, to establish the truth of the matter eventually leading to a just outcome.

Hopefully, at the end of the inquiry, we will have more, light and less heat and begin a process of healing and conciliation, through a just outcome, on an issue which has deeply divided our communities.

“The world is full of injustice, and those who profit by injustice are in a position to administer rewards and punishments. The rewards go to those who invent ingenious justifications for inequality, the punishments to those who try to remedy it.”

Bertrand Russell 1872 – 1970

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If you want more information or want to help with the inquiry please contact me, through text or email on:

07846890823 or puru.miah@gmail.com 

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Written by Cllr Puru Miah

I am the Councillor for Mile End ward in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

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