Search

Youth service relaunched in Tower Hamlets amid investigations into ‘missing’ £1m funds

PUBLISHED: 09:36 14 February 2018 | UPDATED: 12:12 14 February 2018

Mayor John Biggs at Stepney's Haileybury centre for the relaunch of troubled youth service. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mayor John Biggs at Stepney's Haileybury centre for the relaunch of troubled youth service. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

The troubled youth service run by Tower Hamlets Council has been relaunched while police and town hall investigations continue into “missing” funds of an estimated £1million.

East End youngsters pack event to relaunch Tower Hamlets youth service. Picture: Kois Miah East End youngsters pack event to relaunch Tower Hamlets youth service. Picture: Kois Miah

Investigators found lack of transparency and staff failing to declare interests in organisations getting council contracts.

The scandal greeting mayor John Biggs when he took over was exposed 18 months ago after government commissioners brought in to check council spending found discrepancies from 2014 onward under the former Lutfur Rahman administration.

A police investigation is currently ongoing. Council audits have also led to eight staff members being dismissed, disciplinary action taken against another and five youth service employees having to resign.

But Mayor Biggs was now determined to wipe the slate clean.

Packed event at Haileybury centre with Mayor Biggs for relaunch of council youth service. Picture: Mike Brooke Packed event at Haileybury centre with Mayor Biggs for relaunch of council youth service. Picture: Mike Brooke

“The youth service has been through upheaval following allegations of mis-practice under the previous mayor,” he told the East London Advertiser at the relaunch.

“There was mismanagement of funds and lack of transparency which was picked up by the commissioners.

“Our youth workers have been under a lot of pain and challenges because of stressful moments reorganising the way this service works.”

Last night’s relaunch at Stepney’s packed Haileybury youth centre gave a pledge that the youth service has been “transformed” following the suspensions and dismissals.

Getting a 'selfie' with Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs at relaunch of council's youth service at Stepney's Haileybury centre. Picture: Kois Miah Getting a 'selfie' with Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs at relaunch of council's youth service at Stepney's Haileybury centre. Picture: Kois Miah

“It’s been a painful process for the council and stressful for the staff with allegations of fraud and misbehaviour,” Mayor Biggs revealed.

“A council investigation was already going on when I took over. It looked as if money had gone missing and poor management with very few youngsters turning up at youth centres.”

The scandal over the unaccountable £1m erupted at a council meeting with allegations of goods being bought on youth service credit cards without checks.

“Any member of staff who might have been wrapped up in that has been subject to the proper disciplinary procedures,” Mr Biggs added. “Some have left, some had their names cleared.

“Any evidence of fraud needs to rest with the police. But I get grumpy with the Met—we send them things to investigate, but they seem to take a hell of a long time going through them.”

The council is spending £4m a year running 18 youth ‘hubs’ with activities which now include sessions on the dangers of drink and drugs, help with bullying on social media and sexual health matters.

It is running eight full-time and 10 part-time centres offering sport, games, arts, music, recording studios, hair salons, climbing walls and computer suites.

Latest East London News Stories

The council has been slammed after a wall with a plaque dedicated to one of the ‘greatest ever Brits’ was left covered with graffiti and rubbish dumped nearby..

Chicken fans missing out on their favourite food after KFC closed stores across the country have been urged not to call the police to complain.

Boaters have been told not to move their vessels as environment bosses work to clean up a major oil spill polluting the River Lea.

13:00

KFC has announced more store closures after delivery problems meant that it ran out of chicken.

11:50

A voluntary group of St John’s Ambulance cadet lifesavers in Canary Wharf is desperately looking for youth leaders to run the branch.

Yesterday, 18:00

Meet two sisters passionate about olive oil who don’t let you leave their family-run restaurant feeling hungry—then you must be in Wapping.

Yesterday, 17:41

Shoppers paying for carrier bags at the supermarket have spent enough to donate £3,800 to help homeless patients at the Royal London Hospital get through winter.

Yesterday, 15:33

Flames which damaged part of a church in Bethnal Green were caused by a carelessly discarded cigarette, London Fire Brigade (LFB) believe.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read news

Show Job Lists

Competitions

Having a brand new kitchen is something that lots of people want but can only dream of. Sadly keeping up to date and making our living spaces as nice as they can be is a costly and incredibly stressful business. Even a fresh coat of paint makes all the difference but isn’t easy or quick.

Who wouldn’t love the chance to go on a shopping spree. Imagine being able to walk into a shop and choose whatever your heart desires without having to worry about how much it costs.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Docklands and East London Advertiser
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now