Local news for Wapping E1W and Tower Hamlets

Investigations rip through CLC as Halsey abandons Tower Hamlets

More details are emerging of the sheer scale of the investigations into the Communities Localities & Culture (CLC) Directorate of Tower Hamlets Council as Stephen Halsey, Corporate Director of CLC, leaves his post with an undisclosed settlement package.

The response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by Love Wapping has revealed that:

  • Nine individuals with the CLC are currently under investigation.
  • 19 individuals in the Youth Service (formerly within CLC) are currently under investigation.
  • 10 officers are suspended in the CLC Directorate.

To put these numbers in context here are the Number of Youth Services officers dismissed 2010 – 2016.

  • 2010 = 1
  • 2011 = 2
  • 2012 = 1
  • 2015 = 1
  • 2016 = 3

75 Different Investigations

Rumours of Halsey’s imminent departure have been circulating at the Town Hall for some time, so this news should not come as any surprise.

Chief Executive Will Tuckley will take over responsibility for managing CLC after Halsey’s departure.

Approximately 75 different investigations are under way at Tower Hamlets Council into the activities of Youth Service personnel alone.  All these investigations are understood to be into alleged malfeasance when Youth Services were part of CLC and Halsey had responsibility for the Directorate.

The Council states that Steve Halsey has not been subject to any internal investigations or discipline.

During the organisational chaos of the Lutfur Rahman administration Halsey was at one time the most senior Council officer in the absence of a permanent Chief Executive.

The Communities, Localities & Culture directorate currently comprises of five main service areas; Community Safety, Public Realm, Local Strategic Partnership, Cultural Services and Environmental Control. These service areas have changed under the Labour administration.

Youth Services has been the hot potato in the Council ever since these services were brought into the Council after Lutfur Rahman was first made Mayor. Only now, with a new administration in place, have details begun to emerge of what some Youth Services personnel were getting up to.

Seeya! Who’s next?

It is not known if the departure of more officers from Communities Localities & Culture (CLC) is likely.

For reasons of confidentiality the Council is not in a position to release details of the terms of Mr Halsey’s departure or any financial settlement.

As previously reported on LW in August 2016 a cap on payoffs to local government officers comes into force. Once the cap is in place then officers leaving the council can only receive a maximum of £96,000 in ‘exit-pay’.

Good timing by Halsey – but what of others who may be considering their future career prospects at the Council? Seems they might have to wait until after August to get their exit packages sorted.

By pure coincidence on the same day that we became aware of the departure of Halsey from the troubled CLC directorate LW received a reply to one of the many FOI requests we have been submitting recently.

This particular FOI was an attempt to confirm persist rumours emanating from sources close to Clove Crescent that investigations by the Biggs administration and DCLG Commissioners had led to the unearthing of significant malfeasance within the Youth Services section of the Communities, Localities & Culture directorate under Rahman.

Anyone got Pythagoras’s mobile number?

One approach the Wapping Mole has taken to confirming the details of these 75 investigations is to use FOI requests to ‘triangulate’ on those who are suspected of malfeasance. There are various ways to do this but Moley refuses to tell us or anyone else what they are.

So don’t bother asking.

This takes more than one FOI request, but the pieces are slowly beginning to fall into place and confirming the results of the investigative work Moley has been doing for the last two years.

So rather than wait for all the details we at LW have decided to share our results as we go along. All FOI responses are of course in the public domain anyway.

You can find this FOI (4797568) and many others on the Council website.

FOI: 4797568 Suspensions & Investigations

Q1: How many individuals in the Communities, Localities & Culture directorate are currently under investigation and what is their rank?

A: There are nine individuals in the CLC directorate that are currently under investigation.

Q2: How many individuals in the Youth Service are currently under investigation and what is their rank?

A: There are 19 individuals in the Youth service that are currently under investigation.

Q3: Number of officers in Communities, Localities & Culture directorate currently suspended and what is their rank?

A: There are currently 10 officers who are suspended in the CLC Directorate.

(No job titles of course as if this was provided some sneaky people might work out who these people are. That information is withheld under section 40(2) (personal data) and constitutes a refusal under section 17 of the Freedom of information Act 2000. But here at LW we do not take these refusal personally. We see it more as a professional challenge that we have already engaged with.)

Why take Youth Services in house?

This Council document (PDF) illustrates the serious reservations expressed by Labour councillors at a Council meeting on  Wednesday, 16th May, 2012 regarding Rahman’s decision to bring the Council’s Youth Services in house.  Extract below:

This Council notes:

    • That the executive Mayor has decided to take the Council’s youth service contracts in house
    • That the reasons given for this decision included assertions that money would be saved if the council staff rather than the third sector organisations and schools managed the provider contracts.
    • That no evidence has been given for this, and no firm numbers given.
    • That the decision is not in line with the principles set out in the current Tower Hamlets Children and Young People’s Plan.
    • That the current providers add significant value to the contracts they hold through supporting services within their own HR and IT and through running additional youth services with their own resources.
    • That youth services across Tower Hamlets have improved significantly since they were first contracted out, through effective partnership working.

This Council resolves:

  • To oppose bringing the youth service in house at this point.
  • To call on the Mayor to:-
  • Work with providers to identify efficiencies in partnership; and
  • Run a full consultation with providers and young people before decisions about the future of the youth service are made.

Compare and contrast that document with this document (PDF) that looks at options open to the Authority with regard to the delivery of the youth service in 2012.

Four years later many people are still trying to work out why Youth Services were brought in house and exactly what the real reason was for this.

Continue reading Love Wapping to find out in the next few weeks.

If you find the above information of use please consider supporting the investigative work of Love Wapping by donating to the Wapping Mole directly.

 

 

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