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Accusations that Tower Hamlets Council Broke the Law by Failing to Remove Palestinian Flags and Stickers

Tower Hamlets Council in east London is being accused of violating planning laws by permitting Palestinian flags and posters to remain in public spaces and intimidate Jewish residents.

A London council is being accused of breaking planning laws by refusing to remove Palestinian flags and “inflammatory” posters and stickers from lampposts in the borough.

UK Lawyers For Israel (UKLFI) has written to the Metropolitan Police accusing Tower Hamlets Council in east London of breaching planning laws by failing to remove offensive stickers and flags as required by the Town and Country Planning Act.

Several Jewish residents complained to the National Jewish Assembly about the situation and raised the issue with the UKLFI. The UKLFI has written to the Met, citing section 224(4)(a) of the Town and Country Planning Act, which states that the owner of the land is committing a criminal offense if they do not make efforts to remove offensive flags, posters, or stickers.

‘Displays Intimidate Jewish People’

In a statement published on their website on Friday, Jonathan Turner, chief executive of UKLFI, said: “Our attention has been drawn to serious concerns on the part of Jewish residents of Tower Hamlets regarding the proliferation of large Palestine flags on lamp-posts in public streets as well as posters and stickers with inflammatory content. These displays intimidate Jewish people and may encourage violence against them.”

UKLFI’s letter to the Met stated: “We believe that many of the flags, posters, and stickers are displayed on land owned or occupied by Tower Hamlets Council. The council has not taken all reasonable steps to secure the removal of flags, posters, and stickers on its land and therefore has committed and is committing criminal offenses.”

In 2010, a referendum voted for a directly-elected mayor system in Tower Hamlets, and Lutfur Rahman was elected to the position later that year. However, Rahman was later convicted of electoral fraud and banned from political office for five years, only to win another mayoral election in 2022, ousting Labour’s John Biggs.

Tower Hamlets covers a large portion of east London, including historic districts like Bethnal Green, Bow, Stepney, and Whitechapel, which became home to an influx of Jewish immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th century. Today, a significant portion of the borough is of Bengali origin.

According to a report from The Epoch Times, upon his re-election, Rahman promised to rid the borough of unpopular Low Traffic Neighbourhoods introduced by Biggs.

The Israel-Hamas war has led to a rise in the number of pro-Palestinian flags and posters being displayed in Tower Hamlets. The council claims it is monitoring the situation closely and working with police partners to manage it.

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