Ministers send inspectors into Tower Hamlets Council amid governance concerns

The Council is facing scrutiny again. Pic: Tower Hamlets Council 

The Government has ordered an inspection of the Tower Hamlets Council for the second time in a decade amidst scrutiny of its operations under the leadership of independent Mayor Lutfur Rahman.  

The decision comes amidst mounting concerns regarding the borough’s governance and spending practices.  

Mayor Rahman, who was previously ousted from his mayoral position in 2015 due to electoral fraud, was re-elected as the Tower Hamlets mayor two years ago. However, his tenure has been marked by controversy, prompting the government to intervene once again.  

The review, which will be led by former Newgham Council chief executive Kim Bromley-Derry, will encompass various aspects, including financial management, senior appointments, and grant allocations.  

Additionally, inspectors will assess the Council’s handling of elections and their ability to maintain independence in crucial roles such as the Returning Officer. 

The decision to send inspectors follows concerns raised by the Department of Levelling up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) regarding the frequent turnover of senior officials within the Council since Rahman’s reinstatement. Vacancies in key management positions further underscore the challenges facing the administration.  

DLUHC officials expressed concerns about the council’s compliance with its “Best Value Duty,” in a letter to Bromley-Derry, emphasising the need for continuous improvement in service delivery. They highlighted the risk of replicating past governance failures, echoing circumstances that led to Rahman’s previous disqualification.  

Tower Hamlets Labour Councillor, Marc Francis, welcomed the inspection, attributing it to the Council’s deteriorating governance and extravagant spending under Rahman’s leadership. He emphasised longstanding warnings from opposition councillors regarding the administration’s shortcomings in response to the news. 

In response, Rahman expressed disappointment with the government’s decision but affirmed his cooperation with the inspection process. Despite the ongoing scrutiny, he reiterated his commitment to prioritising the borough’s residents to the BBC.  

Lutfur Rahman has been elected mayor of Tower Hamlets three times. Pic: Luftur For Mayor

A spokesperson for Tower Hamlets Council told the BBC, while expressing surprise at the government’s intervention, that they would fully cooperate with the inspection. They cited positive feedback from recent independent reviews but acknowledged the need for ongoing improvement initiatives, particularly in addressing historical financial issues.  

The Council highlighted their efforts to enhance residents’ lives, including innovative initiatives such as providing free school meals for all primary and secondary schools. Despite challenges, they remain dedicated to serving the community while striving for governance excellence.  

The inspectors are expected to submit their findings by the end of May, shedding light on the Council’s adherence to governance standards and their capacity for effective local administration. 

One Response

  1. Jessica Hutton February 23, 2024

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