Dan Peters 17 December 2014

BREAKING: Pickles sends in commissioners to Tower Hamlets

Communities secretary Eric Pickles risked reigniting a row with Tower Hamlets LBC mayor Lutfur Rahman today as he sent commissioners into the town hall.

Mr Pickles rejected Mayor Rahman’s claims that he could put his own house in order, instructing the commissioners to take control of grant making, approval of any sale or disposal of property and the drawing up of a plan for publicity.

Mr Pickles said: ‘Intervention was not a decision taken lightly.

‘However, I could not ignore the overwhelming evidence of the council’s failure and allow this to continue unchecked.

‘Residents need to know that decisions are being taken properly in an open and accountable way.

‘The commissioners I have appointed are experienced and talented professionals who understand that transparency and accountability are vital to the functioning of local democracy.’

The Government’s former chief fire and rescue adviser for England, Sir Ken Knight, will lead fellow commissioner Max Caller and another person, yet to be announced.

Sir Ken said: ‘We are determined to restore faith in how Tower Hamlets operates.

‘Local people deserve a council that not only makes decisions in an accountable and transparent way but also with the benefit of all residents in mind.

‘Today marks the start of a long but necessary journey to ensure public confidence in the council is restored, community cohesion maintained and that Tower Hamlets is no longer a byword for poor governance.’

A Tower Hamlets spokeswoman said: 'The council looks forward to working with the commissioners who have met with senior officers this morning.

'It is noteworthy that the directions do not seem to take account of detailed representations made to the secretary of state and it is our understanding that the mayor will be reviewing the directions to decide upon the most appropriate course of action.'

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