Tower Hamlets London Borough Council
Coat of arms
Council logo
Founded1 April 1965
Preceded byBethnal Green Borough Council
Poplar Borough Council
Stepney Borough Council
New session started
3 May 2018 (Municipal year 2018/19)
John Biggs, Labour Party
since 11 June 2015
Victoria Obaze
since May 2019
Chief executive
Will Tuckley
since 27 August 2015
Seats45 councillors
Council political groups
Executive (40)
  •   Labour (40)

Opposition (5)

Length of term
Executive mayor elected every four years
Whole council elected every four years
Supplementary vote
Council last election
3 May 2018
Council next election
5 May 2022
Meeting place
Town Hall, Mulberry Place
(the council is due to move to the Whitechapel Civic Centre in 2022)[2]
Council constitution

Tower Hamlets London Borough Council is the local authority for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in Greater London, England. The council is unusual in that its executive function is controlled by a directly elected mayor of Tower Hamlets, currently John Biggs.[3]

Following the May 2014 election, Tower Hamlets London Borough Council was composed of 22 Labour Party members, 19 Tower Hamlets First members and 5 Conservative Party members.[4] Following the removal of Lutfur Rahman as mayor and Alibor Choudhury as councillor, Tower Hamlets First was removed from the Electoral Commission register of political parties, with Labour's Sabina Akhtar replacing Choudhury as councillor for Stepney Green and John Biggs replacing Rahman as Mayor, following the by-elections in June 2015.[5][6]

The council was created by the London Government Act 1963 and replaced three local authorities: Bethnal Green Metropolitan Borough Council, Poplar Metropolitan Borough Council and Stepney Metropolitan Borough Council.


There have previously been a number of local authorities responsible for the Tower Hamlets area. The current local authority was first elected in 1964, a year before formally coming into its powers and prior to the creation of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets on 1 April 1965. Tower Hamlets London Borough Council replaced Bethnal Green Metropolitan Borough Council, Poplar Metropolitan Borough Council and Stepney Metropolitan Borough Council. All three had been created in 1900, in Bethnal Green the borough council replaced the parish vestry and in Poplar the council replaced the board of works; both authorities had been incorporated by the Metropolis Management Act 1855. Stepney had a more convoluted history with the metropolitan borough council established in 1900 replacing the Limehouse District Board of Works, the Whitechapel District Board of Works and the parish vestries of Mile End Old Town and St George in the East.[7]

It was envisaged that through the London Government Act 1963 Tower Hamlets as a London local authority would share power with 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 local authorities responsible for "personal" services such as social care, libraries, cemeteries and refuse collection. This arrangement lasted until 1986 when Tower Hamlets London Borough Council gained responsibility for some services that had been provided by the Greater London Council, such as waste disposal. Tower Hamlets became an education authority in 1990. 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.[8]

In September 2008, Tower Hamlets London Borough Council named two tower blocks in Sidney Street Peter House and Painter House, even though Peter the Painter was only involved in a minor capacity in the robbery, was not present at the siege of Sidney Street, and may not have existed at all. A local councillor and the Metropolitan Police Federation protested against this, saying that he should not be honoured.[9]

Following a local referendum on 6 May 2010, a directly elected executive mayor system of local government commenced with the election on 21 October 2010 of Lutfur Rahman as mayor. Rahman was re-elected at the 2014 mayoral election, but the result of this election was cancelled and declared null and void on 23 April 2015 when the Election Court officially reported Rahman to be guilty of corrupt or illegal practices, or both (electoral fraud) under the Representation of the People Act 1983.[10][11] He was thus removed from his office with immediate effect and was also personally debarred from standing for elected office until 2021.[12][13] A BBC article in 2018 stated that "Police investigating electoral fraud during the 2014 Tower Hamlets mayoral election have not found sufficient evidence to charge anyone".[14]

Powers and functions

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.[15] 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.[16]


From 1986 to 1994 the council experimented with decentralisation of services to seven neighbourhood areas.[17]

Summary results of elections

Main article: Tower Hamlets local elections

Previous election results are as follows:

Election Overall control Conservative Labour Lib Dem Others
2018[18] Labour 2 42 1
2014 No overall control 5 22 18
2010 Labour 8 41 1 1
2006 Labour 7 26 6 12
2002 Labour 35 16
1998 Labour 41 9
1994 Labour 43 7
1990 Liberal Democrat 20 30
1986 Liberal/SDP Alliance 24 26
1982 Labour 31 18 1
1978 Labour 43 7
1974 Labour 60
1971 Labour 60
1968 Labour 57 3
1964 Labour 55 5

List of councillors

The councillors as of 29 August 2018 are as follows:[19]

Ward Councillor Notes
Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs Mayor of Tower Hamlets
Bethnal Green Ahbab Hossain
Sirajul Islam Statutory Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Housing
Eve McQuillan Mayoral Advisor for Tackling Poverty & Inequality
Blackwall & Cubitt Town Ehtasham Haque
Mohammed Pappu
Candida Roland Cabinet Member for Resources and the Voluntary Sector
Bow East Amina Ali Cabinet Member for Culture, Arts and Brexit
Rachel Blake Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Air Quality
Marc Francis
Bow West Asam Begum Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Equalities
Val Whitehead
Bromley North Zenith Rahman
Dan Tomlinson
Bromley South Danny Hassell Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Young People
Helal Uddin
Canary Wharf Kyrsten Perry
Andrew Wood Leader of the Conservative Group; resigned in 2020.[1]
Island Gardens Mufeedah Bustin
Peter Golds
Lansbury Kahar Chowdhury
Muhammad Harun
Bex White
Limehouse James King
Mile End David Edger Cabinet Member for Environment
Asam Islam Mayoral Advisor for Young People
Puru Miah
Poplar Sufia Alam
Shadwell Ruhul Amin Cabinet Member for Environment
Rabina Khan Elected as People's Alliance of Tower Hamlets; switched to the Liberal Democrats in August 2018
Spitalfields & Banglatown Shad Chowdhury
Leema Qureshi
St Dunstan's Dipa Das
Ayas Miah Speaker of the Council
St Katharine's & Wapping Denise Jones Cabinet Member for Adults, Health and Wellbeing
Abdal Ullah
St Peter's Kevin Brady
Tarik Khan
Gabriela Salva Macallan
Stepney Green Sabina Akhtar Mayoral Advisor for Community & Voluntary Sector
Motin Uz-Zaman Cabinet Member for Work and Economic Growth
Weavers Abdul Mukit MBE
John Pierce
Whitechapel Faroque Ahmed
Shah Ameen
Victoria Obaze

See also


  1. ^ a b Jon King. "Tory councillor quits party over Brexit and Westferry Printworks scheme". East London Advertiser. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
  2. ^ "Bouygues starts Tower Hamlets town hall project". Construction Index. 21 February 2019. Retrieved 16 October 2021.
  3. ^ "Tower Hamlets Mayoral Election – Thursday, 11th June, 2015". Tower Hamlets Council. 12 June 2015. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
  4. ^ "Local Elections – Thursday, 22nd May, 2014". Tower Hamlets Council. 4 July 2015. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
  5. ^ "Stepney Green – Thursday, 11th June, 2015". Tower Hamlets Council. 12 June 2015. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
  6. ^ "Tower Hamlets election: Labour's John Biggs named mayor - BBC News". Retrieved 29 May 2020.
  7. ^ Youngs, Frederic (1979). Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England. I: Southern England. London: Royal Historical Society. ISBN 0-901050-67-9.
  8. ^ Leach, Steve (1998). Local Government Reorganisation: The Review and its Aftermath. Routledge. p. 107. ISBN 978-0714648590.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ 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
  12. ^ Tower Hamlets election fraud mayor Lutfur Rahman removed from office, BBC News, British Broadcasting Corporation, 23 April 2015, retrieved 25 July 2015
  13. ^ 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
  14. ^ "No charges after Tower Hamlets electoral fraud probe". 7 September 2018 – via
  15. ^ "Council Tax and Business Rates Billing Authorities". Council Tax Rates. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  16. ^ "Local Plan Responses – within and outside London". Mayor of London. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  17. ^ Dench, Geoff (2006). The new East End : kinship, race and conflict. London: Profile. ISBN 1861979282.
  18. ^ "Tower Hamlets London Borough Council". BBC News.
  19. ^ "Mayor and Councillors". Tower Hamlets Council. Retrieved 29 August 2018.