Tower Hamlets London Borough Council
Coat of arms
Council logo
Founded1 April 1965
Jahed Choudhury,
since 17 May 2023[1]
Lutfur Rahman,
since 9 May 2022
Steve Halsey
since February 2023[2]
Seats45 councillors plus elected mayor
Political groups
Administration (24)
  Aspire (24)
Other parties (21)
  Labour (18)
  Conservative (1)
  Green (1)
  Independent (1)
Last election
5 May 2022
Next election
7 May 2026
Meeting place
Tower Hamlets Town Hall
160 Whitechapel Road, London, E1 1BJ
Council constitution

Tower Hamlets London Borough Council, also known as Tower Hamlets Council, is the local authority for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in Greater London, England. It is a London borough council, one of 32 in London. The council has been under the majority control of local party Aspire since 2022. It has been led by a directly elected mayor since 2010. The council is based at Tower Hamlets Town Hall on Whitechapel Road.


The area of the modern borough had historically been part of the county of Middlesex. It had formed the main part of an area known as the Tower Division, also known as the Tower Hamlets, which from at least the 17th century was a liberty with judicial and administrative independence from the rest of the county. The liberty appears to have arisen from much older obligations on inhabitants of the area to provide military service to the Constable of the Tower of London.[3]

From 1856 the area was governed by the Metropolitan Board of Works, which was established to provide services across the metropolis of London.[4] In 1889 the Metropolitan Board of Works' area was made the County of London. From 1856 until 1900 the lower tier of local government within the metropolis comprised various parish vestries and district boards. In 1900 the lower tier was reorganised into metropolitan boroughs, including the Metropolitan Borough of Bethnal Green, the Metropolitan Borough of Poplar and the Metropolitan Borough of Stepney.[5][6]

The modern borough was created in 1965 under the London Government Act 1963. It was a merger of the old boroughs of Bethnal Green, Poplar and Stepney, and was named after the historic liberty. The council's full legal name is "The Mayor and Burgesses of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets", but it styles itself Tower Hamlets Council.[7][8]

From 1965 until 1986 the council was a lower-tier authority, with upper-tier functions provided by the Greater London Council. The split of powers and functions meant that the Greater London Council was responsible for "wide area" services such as fire, ambulance, flood prevention, and refuse disposal; with the boroughs (including Tower Hamlets) responsible for "personal" services such as social care, libraries, cemeteries and refuse collection. The Greater London Council was abolished in 1986 and its functions passed to the London Boroughs, with some services provided through joint committees.[9] Tower Hamlets became a local education authority in 1990 when the Inner London Education Authority was dissolved.[10]

From 1986 to 1994 the council experimented with decentralisation of services to seven neighbourhood areas.[11]

Since 2000 the Greater London Authority has taken some responsibility for highways and planning control from the council, but within the English local government system the council remains a "most purpose" authority in terms of the available range of powers and functions.[12]

In 2008 the council named two tower blocks in Sidney Street as 'Peter House' and 'Painter House' after Peter the Painter, a Latvian anarchist gangster reputedly involved in the Siege of Sidney Street in 1911, whose true identity is not known. Having escaped capture, he had become an anti-hero in the East End. A local councillor and the Metropolitan Police Federation protested against the naming, saying that he should not be honoured.[13]

In 2010, following a referendum, the role of directly elected mayor of Tower Hamlets was created to serve as the council's political leader. Lutfur Rahman was elected as the first such mayor. He was re-elected in 2014, but the result of that election was declared void the following year in the case of Erlam v Rahman at the Election Court, which reported Rahman and one of the councillors to be guilty of electoral fraud under the Representation of the People Act 1983.[14][15] He was thus removed from his office with immediate effect and was also barred from standing for elected office until 2021.[16][17] The police subsequently carried out an investigation into whether criminal charges should be brought against anyone involved regarding the electoral fraud, but concluded that there was insufficient evidence to do so.[18]

Labour's John Biggs won the subsequent mayoral by-election following Rahman's removal in 2015, and retained the post at the 2018 election.[19][20] Rahman's ban on standing for office expired in 2021, allowing him to contest the mayoralty again in 2022. He stood under the banner of a new local party called Aspire. Rahman defeated Biggs for the mayoralty, and Aspire also won a majority of the seats on the council.[21]


The local authority derives its powers and functions from the London Government Act 1963 and subsequent legislation, and has the powers and functions of a London borough council. It sets council tax and as a billing authority also collects precepts for Greater London Authority functions and business rates.[22] It sets planning policies which complement Greater London Authority and national policies, and decides on almost all planning applications accordingly. It is a local education authority and is also responsible for council housing, social services, libraries, waste collection and disposal, traffic, and most roads and environmental health.[23]

Political control

The council has been under Aspire majority control since 2022.

The first election was held in 1964, initially operating as a shadow authority alongside the outgoing authorities until it came into its powers on 1 April 1965. Political control of the council since 1965 has been as follows:[24]

Party in control Years
Labour 1965–1986
Alliance 1986–1988
Liberal Democrats 1988–1994
Labour 1994–2017
No overall control[25] 2017–2018
Labour 2018–2022
Aspire 2022–present


Prior to 2010, political leadership was provided by the leader of the council, with the role of Mayor of Tower Hamlets at that time being largely ceremonial. The leaders from 1965 to 2010 were: [26][27]

Councillor Party From To
John Orwell Labour 1965 1974
Paul Beasley Labour 1974 1984
John Riley Labour 1984 1986
Eric Flounders Liberal 1986 1987
Chris Birt Liberal 1987 1988
Brenda Collins Liberal Democrats 1988 1990
Eric Flounders Liberal Democrats 1990 1991
Peter Hughes Liberal Democrats 1991 1994
John Biggs Labour 1994 1995
Dennis Twomey Labour 1995 1997
Michael Keith Labour 1997 1998
Julia Mainwaring Labour 1998 1999
Michael Keith Labour 1999 2001
Helal Abbas[28] Labour 2001 25 May 2005
Michael Keith Labour 25 May 2005 7 May 2006
Denise Jones Labour 24 May 2006 21 May 2008
Lutfur Rahman Labour 21 May 2008 26 May 2010
Helal Abbas Labour 26 May 2010 24 Oct 2010

In 2010 the council changed to having directly elected mayors with executive powers. To avoid the confusion of having multiple mayors, the old ceremonial role of mayor was renamed as the chair, and was renamed again in 2011 as the speaker.[29] The elected mayors since 2010 have been:

Mayor Party From To
Lutfur Rahman Independent 25 Oct 2010 25 May 2014
(Lutfur Rahman)[a] Tower Hamlets First 26 May 2014 23 Apr 2015
John Biggs Labour 15 Jun 2015 8 May 2022
Lutfur Rahman Aspire 9 May 2022
  1. ^ 2014 mayoral election declared void on 23 April 2015, triggering by-election.[30]


Following the 2022 election and a change of allegiance in November 2023,[31] the composition of the council (excluding the elected mayor's seat) was:

Party Councillors
Aspire 24
Labour 18
Conservative 1
Green 1
Independent 1
Total 45

The next election is due 7 May 2026, where all seats of the council will be contested.


Bethnal Green Town Hall: Council's headquarters 1965–1993

The council is based at Tower Hamlets Town Hall at 160 Whitechapel Road, which was completed in 2023 behind the retained façade of the old Royal London Hospital, which had been built in 1757.[32][33]

When the council was first created in 1965, it had been based at the old Bethnal Green Town Hall, which had been built in 1910 for Bethnal Green Borough Council.[34] In 1993 the council moved to a new town hall at Mulberry Place in the Blackwall area of the borough, remaining there until 2023.[35][36]

Mulberry Place: Served as town hall 1993–2023


See also: Tower Hamlets London Borough Council elections

Since the last boundary changes in 2014, the council has comprised the elected mayor plus 45 councillors, representing 20 wards, with each ward electing one, two or three councillors. Elections are held for the mayor and councillors together every four years.[37]

List of councillors

The councillors before and after the 2022 elections were as follows:[38]

Ward Councillor
until May 2022
Notes Councillor
from May 2022
Bethnal Green East Ahbab Hossain Rebaka Sultana Labour
Sirajul Islam Statutory Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Housing Sirajul Islam Labour
Eve McQuillan Mayoral Advisor for Tackling Poverty & Inequality Ahmodul Kabir Aspire
Bethnal Green West
(formerly St Peter's)
Kevin Brady Musthak Ahmed Aspire
Tarik Khan Majority Group Whip Abu Talha Chowdhury Aspire
Gabriela Salva Macallan Miraj Amin Rahman Aspire
Blackwall & Cubitt Town Ehtasham Haque Ahmodur Rahman Khan Aspire
Mohammed Pappu Abdul Malik Aspire
Candida Roland Cabinet Member for Resources and the Voluntary Sector Muhammad Bellal Uddin Aspire
Bow East Amina Ali Cabinet Member for Culture, Arts and Brexit Amina Ali Labour
Rachel Nancy Blake Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Air Quality Rachel Nancy Blake Labour
Marc Francis Marc Francis Labour
Bow West Asma Begum Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Equalities Asma Begum Labour
Val Whitehead Nathalie Sylvia Bienfait Green
Bromley North Zenith Rahman Muhammad Saif Uddin Khaled Aspire
Dan Tomlinson Abdul Mannan Aspire
Bromley South Danny Hassell Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Young People Bodruf Islam Choudhury Aspire
Helal Uddin Shahaveer Hussain Labour
Canary Wharf Kyrsten Perry Saled Ahmed Aspire
Andrew Wood Leader of the Conservative Group; resigned in 2020.[39] Mohammad Maium Miah Talukdar Aspire
Island Gardens Mufeedah Bustin Mufeedah Bustin Labour
Peter Stacey Golds Peter Stacey Golds Conservative
Lansbury Kahar Chowdhury Abul Monsur Ohid Ahmed Aspire
Muhammad Harun Jahed Choudhury Aspire
Bex White Iqbal Hossain Aspire
Limehouse James Robert Venables King James Robert Venables King Labour
Mile End David Edger Cabinet Member for Environment Leelu Ahmed Labour
Asam Islam Mayoral Advisor for Young People Mohammad Saifur Rahman Chowdhury Labour
Puru Miah Sabina Khan Labour
Poplar Sufia Alam Gulam Kibria Choudhury Aspire
Shadwell Ruhul Amin Cabinet Member for Environment Ana Miah Aspire
Rabina Khan Elected as People's Alliance of Tower Hamlets;
switched to the Liberal Democrats in August 2018
Mohammad Harun Miah Aspire
Spitalfields and Banglatown Shad Chowdhury Sulik Ahmed Aspire
Leema Qureshi Kabir Hussain Aspire
St Dunstan's Dipa Das Maisha Fahmida Begum Labour
Ayas Miah Speaker of the Council Ayas Miah Labour
St Katharine's and Wapping Denise Jones Cabinet Member for Adults, Health and Wellbeing Amy Louise Lee Labour
Abdal Ullah Abdal Ullah Labour
Stepney Green Sabina Akhtar Mayoral Advisor for Community & Voluntary Sector Sabina Akhtar Labour
Motin Uz-Zaman Cabinet Member for Work and Economic Growth Mohammed Abdul Wahid Ali Aspire
Weavers Abdul Mukit Kabir Ahmed Aspire
John Pierce Asma Islam Labour
Whitechapel Faroque Mahfuz Ahmed Faroque Mahfuz Ahmed Labour
Shah Ameen Shafi Uddin Ahmed Aspire
Victoria Obaze Mohammed Kamrul Hussain Aspire

See also


  1. ^ "Council minutes, 17 May 2023". Tower Hamlets Council. Retrieved 28 April 2024.
  2. ^ Weakley, Kirsty (21 July 2023). "Tower Hamlets appoints permanent chief". Local Government Chronicle. Retrieved 28 April 2024.
  3. ^ Middlesex and Hertfordshire Notes and Queries: Volume 4. 1898. pp. 35–36. Retrieved 28 April 2024.
  4. ^ Metropolis Management Act 1855 (18 & 19 Vict. c. 120)
  5. ^ Youngs, Frederic (1979). Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England. Vol. I: Southern England. London: Royal Historical Society. ISBN 0-901050-67-9.
  6. ^ London Government Act 1899 (62 & 63 Vict. c. 14)
  7. ^ "Mayor and Burgesses of the London borough of tower Hamlets v Secretary of State for Department of the Environment, 1993". V Lex. Retrieved 28 April 2024.
  8. ^ "Tower Hamlets Council announces senior appointment". Tower Hamlets Council. 20 July 2023. Retrieved 28 April 2024.
  9. ^ "Local Government Act 1985",, The National Archives, 1985 c. 51, retrieved 5 April 2024
  10. ^ Education Reform Act 1988 (c. 40)
  11. ^ Dench, Geoff (2006). The new East End : kinship, race and conflict. London: Profile. ISBN 1861979282.
  12. ^ Leach, Steve (1998). Local Government Reorganisation: The Review and its Aftermath. Routledge. p. 107. ISBN 978-0714648590.
  13. ^ Cockcroft, Lucy (25 September 2008). "Tower Blocks Named after Notorious Criminal Linked to Police Killings". Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 19 March 2016.
  14. ^ Tom Whitehead (23 April 2015). "Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman guilty of corrupt and illegal practices over election". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  15. ^ Parliament of the United Kingdom (8 February 1983), The Representation of the People Act 1983, Chapter 2 (as amended on the 23rd. July 2015), Part III, Section 159, London: The National Archives, Ministry of Justice, HM Government, retrieved 23 July 2015
  16. ^ Tower Hamlets election fraud mayor Lutfur Rahman removed from office, BBC News, British Broadcasting Corporation, 23 April 2015, retrieved 25 July 2015
  17. ^ Mike Brooke (29 April 2015), Rahman's 'Tower Hamlets First' is removed from Electoral Commission's party register, The Docklands and East London Advertiser, retrieved 25 July 2015
  18. ^ "No charges after Tower Hamlets electoral fraud probe". BBC News. 7 September 2018.
  19. ^ "Stepney Green – Thursday, 11th June, 2015". Tower Hamlets Council. 12 June 2015. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
  20. ^ "Tower Hamlets election: Labour's John Biggs named mayor - BBC News". BBC News. 12 June 2015. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
  21. ^ "Lutfur Rahman wins Tower Hamlets mayor vote after five-year ban". The Guardian. 6 May 2022. Retrieved 7 May 2022.
  22. ^ "Council Tax and Business Rates Billing Authorities". Council Tax Rates. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  23. ^ "Local Plan Responses – within and outside London". Mayor of London. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  24. ^ "Compositions calculator". The Elections Centre. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
  25. ^ Murphy, Joe (2 February 2017). "Tower Hamlets Labour councillor defects to Lib Dems over Brexit". The Standard. Retrieved 28 April 2024.
  26. ^ "Council minutes". Tower Hamlets Council. Retrieved 30 June 2022.
  27. ^ "London Boroughs Political Almanac". London Councils. Retrieved 1 July 2022.
  28. ^ Stapleton, Stephanie (10 October 2021). "'Voiceless community': Ex-Tower Hamlets leader speaks of childhood experience squatting with thousands of other Bengalis in 1970s". East London Advertiser. Retrieved 30 June 2022.
  29. ^ "Tower Hamlets Speaker of Council". Archived from the original on 2 November 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
  30. ^ "Erlam & Anor v Rahman & Anor [2015] EWHC 1215 (QB)". British and Irish Legal Information Institute. Retrieved 30 June 2022.
  31. ^ Boothroyd, David (17 November 2023). "Scottish Labour steels seat". Local Councils. Thorncliffe. Retrieved 28 April 2024.
  32. ^ Historic England. "The London Hospital (Grade II) (1065788)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 28 April 2024.
  33. ^ "Historic Whitechapel building reopens as Tower Hamlets' new town hall". East London Lines. 1 March 2023. Retrieved 17 March 2023.
  34. ^ Historic England. "Town Hall (Grade II) (1065243)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 28 April 2024.
  35. ^ Hobhouse, Hermione (1994). "'Modern Docklands: Modern commercial developments', in Survey of London: Volumes 43 and 44, Poplar, Blackwall and Isle of Dogs". London: British History Online. pp. 702–707. Retrieved 20 September 2020.
  36. ^ "Architect sought for new Tower Hamlets town hall". Architects Journal. 7 December 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
  37. ^ "The Tower Hamlets (Electoral Changes) Order 2013",, The National Archives, SI 2013/1786, retrieved 28 April 2024
  38. ^ "Mayor and Councillors". Tower Hamlets Council. Retrieved 29 August 2018. and 8 May 2022.
  39. ^ Jon King. "Tory councillor quits party over Brexit and Westferry Printworks scheme". East London Advertiser. Retrieved 29 May 2020.