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Communities Secretary confirms phased return of powers to Tower Hamlets

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed the start of a phased return of powers to Tower Hamlets Council, with councilors now able to resume making decisions on the award of grants to local not-for-profit organisations.

This power was removed in December 2014, when government-appointed commissioners took over aspects of the authority.

Javid said he would also end the commissioners’ oversight of council procurement, though they would continue to appoint and dismiss electoral registration and returning officers for local elections, oversee the recruitment and dismissal of statutory officer and take decisions on property disposals and publicity.

“I’m pleased that since commissioners were sent into Tower Hamlets Council, significant changes have been made,” the Communities Secretary said.

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“Thanks to new checks in place, I’m satisfied that we can start a phased return of powers over grant-making and procurement to locally-elected councillors.

“This is a positive step – but one that is being overseen by commissioners and I will halt the process if there are any concerns.”

Commissioners are due to leave at the end of March, but could stay longer if required.

Alan Wood has resigned as a commissioner. The remaining three are Sir Ken Knight, Max Caller and Chris Allison.

Tower Hamlets elected mayor John Biggs said he welcomed “this vote of confidence from the Secretary of State”.

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