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Tower Hamlets Council postpones chief executive decision until after 2014 elections

09:07 24 January 2013

Crisis... Tower Hamlets Council

Crisis... Tower Hamlets Council

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Tower Hamlets Council will be without a chief executive until after the 2014 Mayoral election at the earliest after failing to agree on a suitable candidate.

At a behind-closed-doors vote held after last night’s full council meeting, members approved the extension of acting head of paid services Stephen Halsey’s contract.

By doing so, the Town Hall avoided further intervention from council watchdog the Local Government Association (LGA), which had previously threatened to parachute in an external candidate.

Mr Halsey now looks set to continue in his role as acting head of paid services until October 2014. He is likely to be given more wide-ranging powers than he previously enjoyed, meaning his role will more closely resemble that of the vacant £195k per year chief executive position.

Mr Halsey was installed as acting head of paid services in July after the council failed to replace former chief executive Kevan Collins, who had stepped down in July 2011.

But he is understood to have grown frustrated at the limited nature of the position, and in December announced he would not extend his contract past January.

The news led to the council voting to accept intervention from the LGA, which had written to Party leaders warning of its concerns over the power vacuum developing with an exodus of high-ranking officers.

But the prospect of an external candidate being drafted in prompted last night’s cross-party consensus on a deal to extend Mr Halsey’s influence in the Town Hall and persuade him to remain in the position.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman’s attempts to appoint his preferred candidate, Aman Dalvi, to the chief executive position, have so far been unsuccessful after opposition councillors blocked the move, claiming he is too closely aligned with the Mayor.

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