Management of Tower Hamlets to return to mayor

29 Oct 15

Day-to-day running of the London borough of Tower Hamlets is to be returned to the authority’s mayor after local government secretary Greg Clark said there had been progress in improving how the council is run.

The coalition government intervened in the running of the council after an inspection by PricewaterhouseCoopers last November found it had failed to comply with some Best Value duties.

Clark’s predecessor Eric Pickles sent in three commissioners to run some aspects of the council due to what Pickles called “systematic failures” in the mayoral administration of Lutfur Rahman. After Rahman was removed from the post by an electoral court, Pickles extended the intervention in Tower Hamlets to cover all of the council’s executive functions, but the terms of this intervention were to expire on October 31.

Following the election of John Biggs as mayor in a new vote in June, Clark said he was able to return day-to-day operations to the mayor.

From this weekend, the three commissioners, led by former chief fire and rescue adviser for England Sir Ken Knight, will no longer have the power to directly run the council. However, they will continue to oversee governance reforms and will also continue to sign off on grant awards made by the council, under the original intervention terms.

“I’m pleased with the progress that has been made in Tower Hamlets over the last six months, which will help restore the community’s confidence in how their area is being run,” Clark stated.

“It means I am confident that, from this weekend, John Biggs can now be left to take on the day-to-day running of the borough as the mayor. But our four commissioners will remain in place, and I will not hesitate to take action if progress stalls and the governance of Tower Hamlets falls short.”

Responding to the announcement, Mayor John Biggs said: “I welcome this vote of confidence. With a new management team in place we are putting the past behind us. The day-to-day work of the council is not particularly about politics but about providing excellent services and that’s what we will do. Our community needs it and our staff want to deliver it too. We need to work hard to support a stronger and more united community. Tower Hamlets is and remains the most exciting place in London."

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