Rahman calls DCLG proposals ‘excessive and disproportionate’

As we have not had a comedy item on <heart> Wapping for some time we thought you might like to read Mayor Lutfur’s response to the PwC report and the DCLG.

You can find the original response here.

London Borough of Tower Hamlets and proposed directions from the Secretary of State

Response of Mayor Lutfur Rahman

Mayor Lutfur Rahman commenting on the proposed direction announced by the Secretary of State on November 4, 2014 said,

“I have today responded to the Secretary of State’s proposed directions in his letter dated 4th November 2014. In general, and having received legal advice, I find the directions to be excessive and disproportionate to the evidence and issues identified in the PwC report. That said we have responded with proportionate and workable proposals. Our services are excellent and it is a shame this fact has not been highlighted.

Where process and governance issues have been identified we will improve them. The Secretary of State should restrict his directions to ensuring that we adopt excellent practice.

It is also highly irregular for the Secretary of State to seek to influence and prejudge the work of the Electoral Commission and the ongoing election petition via the election court which is of course sub judice – the proceedings and outcomes of which are unknown to the Secretary of State.”

“In terms of the specific directions I make the following observations:

  • Direction period: This extends to March 2017 and is excessive. The areas highlighted in the report are being addressed and improvements are well underway.
  • Best Value Strategy and Action plan: There is no evidence base for a wide best value action plan for all council services – particularly given that many of our services are some of the best in London if not nationally
  • Appointment of statutory officers: There is already an established timetable and committee agreed by all parties in the council chamber for appointments so there is no need for the Secretary of State’s intervention
  • Grants: As currently drafted the directions would create an unnecessary bottleneck in funding for our thriving voluntary sector. We have devised comprehensive proposals to make the necessary process improvements
  • Property: No property was found to be undervalued but there are valid recommendations about process. We propose a series of measures that do not risk the council’s regeneration and housing work by introducing an overly bureaucratic process. The council has delivered more social housing units than any other local authority over the last four years and given the levels of housing need this should not be jeopardised
  • Publicity: The PwC report only identified limited shortcomings which have either been addressed or can be addressed quickly and easily. The proposed direction is therefore unreasonable and disproportionate
  • Elections: This direction is an attempt by the Secretary of State to influence the work of the Election Court and the Electoral Commission. The PwC report did not consider the conduct of elections and it is not relevant to the council’s Best Value Duty
  • Contracts and procurement: The PwC Report acknowledges that we have good mechanisms in place already for identifying improvements and therefore the Direction is unnecessary.”

November 18, 2014

Our favourite line is this:

“Grants: As currently drafted the directions would create an unnecessary bottleneck in funding for our thriving voluntary sector.”

And that ladies and gentlemen shows you have completely divorced from reality the current Tower Hamlets Administration is.

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