Tower Hamlets: Concerns expressed that council ‘going wrong again’ as chief executive’s departure announced

Tower Hamlets: Concerns expressed that council ‘going wrong again’ as chief executive’s departure announced

One the country’s most senior experts on public sector financial management says the organisation he leads has “concerns” that Tower Hamlets Council, which was rocked governance controversies during the previous decade, “is going wrong again and will need intervention” following the announcement that its chief executive, Will Tuckley, is to leave his job next month.

Commenting at Linked In, Rob Whiteman, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) praised Tuckley, who took up his role at the East End borough in November 2015, and urged local government bodies and media to avoid “one of those moments where after it’s all gone wrong [they] voice concerns”.

Political leadership of Tower Hamlets changed at last May’s local elections when Lutfur Rahman was became Mayor and his Aspire party won a majority of council seats, replacing the previous Labour administration. Rahman had previously been Mayor from October 2010 until April 2015, when his re-election was declared void following a legal challenge.

Rahman was judged by an election court to have engaged in “corrupt and illegal practices” during his 2014 re-election campaign and was banned from holding public office for five years.

In December 2014 the coalition government sent commissioners into the borough – a group of experienced local authority professionals backing by external accounts – to take control of grant-making and property disposal after Rahman was accused by the then local government secretary of presiding over a “worrying pattern of divisive community politics and alleged mismanagement of public money”.

Announcing Tuckley’s coming departure, which is expected to take effect from 2 March, the council said it was to take place “by mutual agreement” with Tuckley having helped Rahman and his cabinet “begin delivering an ambitious vision for the borough” following Rahman and Aspire’s wins last year. The Mayor thanked Tuckley for “his seven years of service to the council and to the residents of Tower Hamlets” and wished him success in future endeavours.

Tuckley, previously chief executive of Bexley Council, was appointed by Tower Hamlets after a re-run of the voided 2014 mayoral election had been won by Labour’s John Biggs, who was was defeated by Rahman last year.

CIPFA and Tower Hamlets have been contacted to see if they want to comment on Whiteman’s remarks.

Photograph: Will Tuckley announcing Tower Hamlets borough election results in 2018.

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