CLLR OLIUR RAHMAN entered the political field in Tower Hamlets as long ago as 2004 – since when, he told a press conference on 31st May, he’s been batting for the community.
Fellow councillors lined up to give witness that the “People’s Oli” is a good team player whose long innings has given him the experience for the people to back him in a Westminster Test. And now Oli’s found out that he is sixth in the alphabetical list of constituency candidates, he’s asking constituents to “score a six” with him on 8th June – and defeat the opposition.
Cllr Rahman – Oli – is a conviction politician, not a career politician. He was brought up in Tower Hamlets, went to school here – and on to Tower Hamlets College. Now he lives in Tower Hamlets and has represented essentially the same ward for 14 years. He doesn’t just recognise his constituents’ problems – he feels them too.
“The problems our community have keep me awake at night,” he told the press. “Housing is a big issue. We have seen huge developments in the time I have lived in this borough. Some of it is positive, but on the Isle of Dogs we have seen hundreds of residential flats built as investment properties, which stand empty.”
Cllr Rahman believes that the problems housing association tenants have could all have been foreseen – and could have been avoided, if the then Labour Administration hadn’t rushed to implement Tory Government policies. “In 2004, when I was first elected to the Council, in Stepney,” Cllr Rahman explains, “Labour’s Cllr David Edgar was leading the process of selling off Council estates – getting rid of our homes! I said it then, and I have been proved right: housing associations are just profit-making bodies. Housing Associations should be more tightly regulated and more responsive to their residents and generally more publicly accountable. Since the great Homes Sell-Off, the Council has been receiving petition after petition from residents for whom it has all gone wrong.”
Cllr Rahman is desperate to see Poplar & Limehouse represented by an MP who will bring these issues up in the House of Commons. “I will raise all those issues in Parliament and hammer home to the Minister how much our people are paying for the Government’s vanity housing projects which don’t meet real need. I have worked with tenants and leaseholders in Tower Hamlets, and these residents need a Government which will prioritise decent, affordable housing.
“We’re told there’s not enough money to build the affordable homes we need – but all the time Housing Benefit is shovelling shedloads of public money into the hands of private landlords. Someone has to speak up for the people of Poplar & Limehouse about the real problems this community if facing every day. I believe Jeremy Corbyn will has a very positive programme for social housing, but he will need support from MPs who support this policy – he won’t get it from the ones who have spent the last two years trying to stab him in the back.”
On 8th June, we’ll know whether Labour’s candidate has met his match!
•Read more about it:
Jeremy Corbyn highlights housing crisis at PMQ
General Election candidates in Poplar & Limehouse:
Bagshaw, Elaine (Liberal Democrat)
Fitzpatrick, Jim (Labour Party)
Lant, Bethan (Green Party)
McQueen, Nicholas (UK Independence Party [UKIP])
Rahman, Oliur (Independent)
Wilford, Christopher (The Conservative Party candidate)