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Javid outlines plans for Tower Hamlets to regain best value control

The borough council of Tower Hamlets may soon be given back its authority over best value duty, the DCLG confirmed today.

Communities secretary Sajid Javid confirmed that Tower Hamlets council has made ‘significant progress’ on the improvement plan outlined by his predecessor Eric Pickles in December 2014 after it was found that the council was failing to comply with its best value duty. Since then, a team of four commissioners have been overseeing the council’s improvement.

In light of the progress made, described by the commissioners in a letter to government in October, Javid is now considering returning certain functions to the council such as grant-making, as well as a reduction in the number of commissioners from four to three. The council were informed of the decision in a letter sent to them by the DCLG today.

“Following receipt of the council’s third six-monthly update against its Best Value Action Plan on 20 September and a report from the commissioners on 11 October, I am today proposing, on the recommendation of the commissioner team, my intention to return certain functions to the London Borough of Tower Hamlets,” Javid said in a written statement to the House of Commons.

“After careful consideration of the commissioners’ report, I am satisfied that the council is now able to exercise some of the functions identified by the commissioners in compliance with the best value duty, and that the local residents of Tower Hamlets can have confidence that this will be the case.”

Javid also said that he may end the role the commissioners have held in overseeing how the council enters into third-party contracts.

While the council may well regain these functions, Javid has insisted that the commissioners retain oversight over how the council chooses to exercise them until at least March 2017.

Tower Hamlets council have been invited to offer their feedback on the proposals by 16 December which Javid will consider as part of his final decision.

The council has faced considerable problems in recent years, most recently with the independent councillor Shahed Ali being jailed for five months in October due to housing tenancy fraud.

The councillor was associated with the corrupt administration of Lutfur Rahman, the first directly elected mayor of Tower Hamlets who was removed from office in April last year after the High Court found him guilty of electoral fraud, directly leading to a DCLG investigation. 

Tower Hamlets council welcomed the announcement, saying that it had worked hard to alleviate the government's concerns and had achieved over 95% of the actions it committed to in its improvement plan.  

Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said: “I welcome this vote of confidence from the Secretary of State, which reflects the progress we have made as a council and our ambitions to become more outward-looking, transparent and effective at providing the best possible services to our residents. We continue to learn the lessons of the past and to repair the damage left by my predecessor.”

“We look forward to working closely with the remaining commissioners, the Secretary of State and the DCLG in having full democratic control returned to the council as soon as possible.”

Tower Hamlets Council will be submitting its next update to Javid in March 2017 which will detail its progress against its remaining actions.

(Image: c. Oyebola Opaneye)

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Laurence Keeley   08/12/2016 at 20:32

Visit There is a power point presentation on Housing, Care and Pensions.Get the councils to take it up?

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