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DCLG proposes changes in its direction to Tower Hamlets

Tower Hamlets LBC has received a letter from the DCLG proposing to direct the council to establish a new senior officer position designated as head of paid service, the holder of which is to have direct or indirect line management responsibility for all the authority’s staff. 

As part of the proposed direction, the appointment to this position must be reached through a full and open recruitment process. 

It must also be established within one month of the direction. If the communities secretary, Eric Pickles, presses ahead with the proposal it would replace one of the directions issued by him in December requiring a head of paid service, a section 151 officer and a monitoring officer to be appointed by 1 April at the latest. 

Three commissioners had been appointed to oversee these appointments in response to concerns about Tower Hamlet’s governance structure and that it was failing to meet its best value duty. 

A council spokeswoman said: “No additional direction has yet been made. The council has received a letter from DCLG stating the secretary of state’s proposal to issue a new direction, which replaces one of the original directions, issued on 17 December 2014. This intention is subject to consultation and the council will respond within the timetable set out.” 

Rachael Saunders, leader of Tower Hamlets Labour Group, said elected mayor Lutfur Rahman was only willing to support an internal, very brief, limited recruitment exercise. 

“For the most senior officer in the council, we need a public advert, proper interviews, clear and objective criteria - basic when recruiting to any role, vital for the most senior officer of Tower Hamlets Council,” she said. 

But Rahman claims that he and cabinet members have worked together with council appointments committee and already have made two of three appointments required by Secretary of State’s direction. 

“We are urgently working to complete the third appointment and will be setting this out in our response to the Secretary of State’s letter proposing to make a further direction on this matter,” he said. 

The council has been told that it has until 13 April to make their representations, which will then be carefully considered by the secretary of state in making a decision as to whether or not to make the further proposed direction. 

(Image: c. Oyebola Opaneye)

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