Major transparency reforms proposed by Tower Hamlets in bid to set local government benchmark #ROFL

“The ambition of the Overview and Scrutiny Transparency Commission is to move Tower Hamlets Council forward to enable it to become a beacon council for openness, transparency and accountability.

Cllr. John Pearce out campaigning

This agenda is paramount if the Council wants to regain the trust of our residents while turning around our reputation.

It was right for the cross-party committee, which holds the council and decision-makers to account, to establish a commission to begin this journey. Our goals and recommendations set out the building blocks needed.

It has become clear we need to create an organisational culture, led by senior management and the Mayor, which values and presumes openness. I welcome the Mayor’s transparency protocol, and the commission’s recommendations enhance this work.

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The challenges for the council in the coming years are unprecedented. We need to enhance the role of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to support the council to meet these challenges, along with the requirements of the Best Value Improvement Plan.

With this, transparent open data is essential for accountability, and providing access to our data can empower individuals, the media, civil society and businesses to achieve better outcomes for themselves and for our public services.

Tower Hamlets Council’s motto is ‘from great things to greater’. So let’s aspire to set the gold standard for local government transparency.

I would like to thank everyone who supported and participated in our commission.”

Fine words there from Cllr John Pierce Chair, Overview and Scrutiny Committee from his foreword to the LBTH Overview and Scrutiny Committee Transparency Commission Final Report

This report was published on 26 January 2016. Four years ago.

What’s changed? Nowt.

LW stumbled upon it when searching the much missed Tower Hamlets politics blog of Ted Jeory for something else.

This report was one of the key outcomes of the Tower Hamlets Overview and Scrutiny Transparency Commission(OSTC) which was created as a result of the Department for Housing, Culture and Local Government taking control of the council and Mayor Lutfur Rahman getting kicked out of office.

In fact rather than any progress being made towards Tower Hamlets becoming ‘a beacon council for openness, transparency and accountability’ the opposite has happened.

LW Comment

Tower Hamlets Council has become more secretive than the Rahman administration.

LW owes the residents of Tower Hamlets an apology because when we testified at the transparency commission in August 2015 we actually believed all this nonsense.  The evidence we have gathered in the last year or so confirms that we were well and truly had.

Final proof for LW was when we attended the Overview and Scrutiny Committee review into the decision to close Raines Foundation Secondary School the other week. LW sat in the public gallery with the @SOSRaines campaigners and was struck by the manner in which they were treated with barely concealed contempt by some Labour councillors.

We were sitting directly opposite Cllr. John Pierce who at one point tried to give LW a ‘hard man’ stare, presumably in an attempt to intimidate us?

Gonna have to do better than that councillor.

Maybe some more practise in the mirror? Could have been wind of course.


It was at this point that our long held belief that Tower Hamlets Labour Party only governs for the benefit of Tower Hamlets Labour Party was confirmed. Seems that residents needs just get in the way of what Tower Hamlets Labour wants for itself.

For the last 18 months LW has been investigating the current Labour administration in the same way we investigated Lutfur Rahman’s administration, culminating in the intensive work we have been doing in relation to the Poplar Papers.

Same open source tools, same (older and poorer) Mole, same determination to cut through the bulls**t Tower Hamlets Council tries to ram down the throats of borough residents.

What have we found? Same as before. Follow the #PoplarPapers in the coming weeks to read what Tower Hamlets Labour Party really do not want you to know.

It ain’t pretty.

LW will be publishing all we have found as a matter of public interest – borough residents and central government (Whitehall) have a right to know the truth. Sounds a bit pompous but that’s what it is all about.

As ever a link to our digital begging bowl is below. Investigative journalism takes a huge amount of time and effort and while Mole is digging on your behalf he can’t earn any pennies, can he?

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