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Audit Commission criticises Tower Hamlets over chief executive departure

PUBLISHED: 19:00 24 September 2009 | UPDATED: 14:56 05 October 2010

By Else Kvist By Julia Gregory AN independent watchdog has criticised Tower Hamlets Council over the termination of the employment of its former

By Else Kvist

By Julia Gregory

AN independent watchdog has criticised Tower Hamlets Council over the termination of the employment of its former chief executive Martin Smith.

In a report by the Audit Commission, district auditor, Jon Hayes, hits out at the Labour run council for not considering ways of lessening the cost to the public purse.

Mr Smith received a settlement of over £300,000 and the legal negotiations are estimated to have cost the council around £20,000.

Mr Smith had called in his union following a meeting with council leader Lutfur Rahman.

Mr Hayes criticises the council for not taking legal and financial advice earlier.

He concludes "As a result the council may have incurred costs in reaching an agreement with the former chief executive that could have been avoided."

He also said that Mr Smith performance had previously been deemed satisfactory by the council.

Mr Hayes warns the council that it needs to ensure that such weaknesses in its procedures do not recur in the future in order to maintain proper governance, value for money for council taxpayers, and to protect the council's reputation.

Leader of the Tory opposition, Peter Golds, said: "It just goes to prove that the termination of Mr Smith's employment was an utter waste of public money."

And Liberal Democrat Leader Stephanie Eaton said: "As I thought the termination resulted in a financial loss to the council that was unnecessary and unavoidable."

The report is due to go before the council audit panel next week.

Jon Hayes's comments can be found on page nine (31 of 98) at

http://modgov.towerhamlets.gov.uk/Published/C00000388/M00002839/$$Supp1128dDocPackPublic.pdf


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