Yet another investigation into Tower Hamlets council’s Youth Services revealed

A series of informed questions by a borough resident has exposed yet another investigation into the workings of Tower Hamlets council’s Youth Services.

Lost count? Us too.

The precise nature of the enquiry is still unclear but there seem to be multiple issues. Tower Hamlets council has been asked for comment but at the time of publication had not responded.

Youth Service value for money

One issue is the overall efficiency of the Youth Service ‘hubs’ and in particular this years Summer Programme of events for young people in the borough. (On 22nd October we reported on another review of Youth Services and the possibility of these being outsourced to Poplar HARCA. )

Hiring process

Another relates to the hiring process whereby a Youth Service hub manager was promoted to strategically oversee the £7m Councils Youth Provision despite allegedly not possessing the recognised qualification or experience for this level of work.

Services provided to LBTH

Concerns have also been raised about two organisations who provide services to the Council and several related individuals. LW is aware of their identities but is not publicly identifying them at this time.

On 14th August 2019 a concerned resident sent an initial request by email to Mayor John Biggs and other councillors posing questions about the Youth Service Hubs and commissioned Youth Provision. This is now referenced as FOI 18497789.

LW has asked LBTH for copies of this FOI request and response as we cannot find FOI 18497789 on the LBTH Freedom of Information disclosure log because the log does not work.

Matters “subject to investigation”

On 23 October 2019 the residents received an email apology for the delay in responding and then on 30 October 2019 a refusal under Section 31 of the FOI laws as below.

“Your request for information has been considered under the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

The matters you raise are subject to investigation. As such the Council believes that the exemption in Section 31 applies where complying with the request would prejudice or would be likely to prejudice the purpose of ascertaining whether any person has failed to comply with the law, or is responsible for any conduct which is improper.”

Youth Services – some questions to be answered

Excerpts from the two main emails sent by the resident to LBTH are reproduced below.

Council Run Hubs and Council Commissioned Youth Provision. (14 August 2019)

  1. What number of activities have been delivered in relation to the published Summer Programme 29th of July 2019 – 13th August 2019?
  2. What number of young people engaged in the planned activities in the Summer Programme 29th of July 2019 – 13th August 2019?
  3. What percentage of young people have been engaged in relation to the agreed targets for the Summer Programme 29th of July 2019 – 13th August 2019?
  4. What outcomes and outputs have been achieved to date in relation to the Summer Programme 29th of July 2019 – 13th August 2019?
  5. What amount has been spent on marketing the Summer Programme Brochure on physical and online platforms?
  6. How many centres have been closed and said activities advertised have been cancelled or postponed 29th of July 2019 – 13th August 2019?

Further email (24 September 2019)

  1. Could you forward me the JD (Job Description) for the post of “Hub Operational Manager”
  2. Under what rationale has the Council offered an existing Operational Hub Manager a Level 2 Youth Work Course with Sessional Staff yet been expected to strategically oversee TH Councils Youth Provision with no recognised qualification or experience in the role?
  3. Did a transparent and fair recruitment process take place in hiring the “Operational Hub Manager”?
  4. Is a Level 2 Youth Course sufficient to oversee all our Council Funded Hubs?

LBTH Youth Services is currently run by Ronke Martins-Taylor, Divisional Director Youth and Commissioning and Sandjea (Hunter-Clarke) Green, Head of Youth Service since July 2018.

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