CLG committee to probe Rotherham and Tower Hamlets interventions

25 May 16

MPs have launched an inquiry into the interventions at both Tower Hamlets and Rotherham councils to determine the effectiveness of Whitehall’s imposition of commissioners.

The communities and local government committee will aim to identify any lessons for possible future interventions from the two ongoing cases, which followed financial management concerns in Tower Hamlets and the child sexual exploitation scandal in Rotherham.

Their inquiry will also examine the effectiveness of the takeovers and the process of returning power to the local authorities.

The intervention in Tower Hamlets began in December 2014 following concerns that the authority was failing to comply with Best Value duties, while in Rotherham it began in February 2015 following a damning report into the authority’s governance following a variety of historic and serious child protection failings.

Tower Hamlets council remains “some way off” from having its full powers returned, local government secretary Greg Clark said last month, while Sir Derek Myers, who is leading the intervention in Rotherham, said further progress was needed before full powers are restored.

Announcing the inquiry, CLG committee chair Clive Betts said that seizing control of a local authority’s powers is an extremely serious step for any government to take.

“We will look very carefully to see if this has been done effectively in Tower Hamlets and Rotherham and explore the efforts being made to return democratic control to the two communities,” he stated. 

“The committee is also keen to see if the process can be improved for possible cases in the future.”

The committee is inviting written submissions by 13 June on areas including the criteria for imposing commissioners on elected authorities, the effectiveness and performance of commissioners, and their governance and decision-making.

Submissions are also sought on DCLG’s procedures and the criteria for returning functions to local authorities, how the department monitors the performance and government arrangements of local authorities, and the extent to which other local authorities learned lessons from issues highlighted in both authorities.

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