I am pleased to report that Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, is taking a series of steps in relation to Tower Hamlets Council, following last week’s Election Court judgement.

He has proposed directions to extend the powers of the Commissioners over the whole of the local authority, as they see fit, in order to exercise to ensure good governance and sound financial management. Previously, the Commissioners had powers over grants, contracts and electoral administration.

There are also immediate proposed directions which seek to stop the destruction of hard copy and electronic documents by the Council.

Additional Commissioners are also being appointed: Chris Allison, former Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and co-ordinator of security for the 2012 London Olympics, and Alan Wood, who has extensive experience in turning around Children’s Services.

A final direction has also been issued to give Commissioners control over the appointment of the council’s Head of Paid Service – the council’s most senior civil servant, following obstruction by the mayoral administration.

Mr Pickles said:

“Given the independent Election Court’s clear findings of corruption in the mayoral administration, there is a clear need for stronger checks and balances in the run up to the mayoral by-election, especially given many of the associates of the tainted mayor remain in place.”

“The Commissioners have identified a series of concerns about the ongoing running of the council, including the destruction of documents. We will take whatever action is necessary to ensure a free and fair election and clean up this rotten administration.”

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