It’s going to be a busy day for me today so apologies for being brief.
The PwC report is here.
I’m reserving judgment on exactly how “damning” it is. On a first glance there are serious criticisms on council process failures. These could amount, in series, to a damning verdict.
Eric Pickles is due to make a statement at 12.30pm but I suspect a new chief executive is inevitable. He’ll also possibly announce he’s appointing commissioners to take over the grants system and to oversee the sale of council properties.
PwC have certainly found governance failures.
They also hint that too much executive power has been given to one individual regarding the mayoral system. Tower Hamlets may be the extreme example which demonstrates a broader need for improvement in the system.
Politics in Tower Hamlets has been dysfunctional for many years. The arrival of Respect in 2005 blew apart Labour’s monopoly in the borough and that was the catalyst for instability.
The resulting revolving door of councillor defections and swapping of Labour group leaders created a factionalism that even highly regarded senior council officers found difficult to deal with.
We then had the worries over the influence of the Islamic Forum of Europe and its links with certain councillors. Then we had the Respect-led petition which paved the way for the directly elected mayoral system.
And then the Labour party imploded with the row over the selection of Lutfur Rahman.
So Lutfur became a powerful executive mayor as an independent without the checks and balances of a party group. He hired a brand new mayoral office, and that created its own power plays at officer level in the council.
On top of that, he was an angry man under extreme pressure, with one fundamental aim: to get re-elected.
I think he was then badly advised. He took direct control of grants and was surrounded by fawning bidders from external groups.
The dysfunctional politics also meant that when Kevan Collins resigned as council chief executive in 2011, we had an almighty bun fight over his successor.
In short, the successor never happened.
And we’re here today.
Note that East End Life was not examined by PwC and nor were nine examples found by the council of possible fraud in the delivery of youth service grants.