The communities secretary has confirmed the start of a ‘phased return’ of powers to Tower Hamlets, but commissioners caution there is still ‘much to do’.
Sajid Javid today announced councillors can once again award grants to local not-for-profit organisations.
Mr Javid also ended commissioner oversight of the council’s procurement processes and practices and said he would reduce the number of commissioners from four to three.
He did, however, warn he would stop the process if any further concerns were raised.
Government appointed commissioners took over the running of Tower Hamlets council after a 2014 PricewaterhouseCoopers report warned of a breakdown in democratic accountability and a significant risk of misuse of public funds.
The then-Mayor of the borough was found guilty of corrupt and illegal practices by an Election Court.
The latest report from Chief Fire Officer Sir Ken Knight, who is leading the commissioners, highlighted continued progress at the council, with some areas demonstrating good practice, but warns that there is still ‘much more to do’.
‘There is no place for rotten boroughs and I’m pleased that since commissioners were sent into Tower Hamlets council, significant changes have been made,’ said Mr Javid.
‘Thanks to new checks in place, I’m satisfied that we can start a phased return of powers over grant-making and procurement to locally-elected councillors.
‘This is a positive step – but one that is being overseen by commissioners and I will halt the process if there are any concerns.’