Government removes intervention in Tower Hamlets LBC

James Brokenshire has formally ended the government’s intervention in Tower Hamlets London Borough Council following “significant improvements” in a recent review.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities, & Local Government (MHCLG) announced the decision yesterday, following the rebuilding of the council after the removal of a previous mayor in 2014. At the time, the High Court ruled that the mayor broke election rules and declared the election void.

The government sent in four commissioners and had removed powers including grant making, procurement, and the sale of property from the council after a scathing PwC report aired issues including malpractice and a failure to provide value for money.

Since then, improvements to the local authority’s services meant resident trust in the council has risen to 74%, above the national average of 57%.

In June, the LGA was invited by the council to conduct a peer review, and found the council had “improved the culture of the organisation through the hard work and commitment of members and officers throughout the organisation.”

The peer review formed part of the government’s decision to remove the direction fully and end the quarterly reporting.

Mayor John Biggs said: “I am extremely proud that we have turned the council around with a relentless focus on fair and accountable governance. In turn, that has helped us to focus on better jobs, quality affordable housing and safer streets, but there is still much work to do.

“There is no doubt that having a mayor removed and powers limited is a traumatic experience for a council, however it was absolutely necessary. Now we can stand fully on our own two feet. Not just to improve the council, but to showcase to the world the real Tower Hamlets – an amazing borough which should be known not for the bad behaviour of a former mayor, but for the ambition, potential and dynamism of our incredible community in the East End.”

Chief executive of Tower Hamlets Council Will Tuckley said the area is “one of the most amazing places in the country with a set of assets that are the envy of the world.”

He added: “I want to thank our staff, councillors and partners for their hard work and support to get us back on track. We know there is more to do but this marks an important stage on our journey of improvement.

“While Tower Hamlets is already a major part of the UK economy, there is a lot more we can achieve by working with partner organisations in the borough to create opportunities.”

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