Question mark over councillors’ paid role on housing board

Cllrs Kevin Brady and Ehtasham Haque, who were both elected in May this year. Photos: Kois Miah

Cllrs Kevin Brady and Ehtasham Haque, who were both elected in May this year. Photos: Kois Miah - Credit: Archant

Two councillors could be paid for their mayor-appointed roles on a housing association board, it has emerged.

Kevin Brady, the chief whip, and Ehtasham Haque were nominated to the board of Tower Hamlets Community Housing by the mayor in October.

It came as part of the mayor’s annual appointments to external bodies, which see councillors placed in a range of influential roles in outside organisations, from charities to NHS trusts and London-wide schemes.

But of the 56 nominations made this year, only the two at THCH involved a personal allowance – to the tune of £4,250 a year.

Both councillors now need to decide whether to accept the payment before they sit on the THCH board for the first time.

The mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, said he consulted with the chief whip and other party figures before a final decision was made.

But he added: “It’s not a form of crude patronage. We research what the expectation is and ask the organisations what they are looking for.”

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Mr Brady, who represents St Peter’s ward, said he had been told “anecdotally” it was paid but had yet to receive the paperwork.

He added: “I wouldn’t say that I have influence, but I am interested in this because an awful lot of my residents will be living in THCH.

“I certainly didn’t express interest because I knew there was to be a payment.”

Mr Haque said he had not yet signed off on the service agreement and had not decided what to do about the money.

He added: “There’s not a conflict of interest – in the ward I represent I’m not aware of any housing stock they have.”

THCH was formed in 2000 and manages more than 3,000 houses in the western side of the borough.

Chief executive Philip Sullivan said board members were renumerated as part of good governance and because of the complexity of the role, adding that the choice of whether to accept it rested with the individual.

He said: “THCH is robust in ensuring interests are declared and properly resolved.

“All board members, whilst undertaking THCH duties, act wholly in the interests of THCH.

“We work in partnership with the council and we very much welcome and appreciate their support on, and involvement in, what we are seeking to do locally.”

There was a delay in updating both councillors’ declarations of interest, with neither showing the THCH role until last week - even though one of the registers had recently been updated.

A council spokesman said: “Declarations of interest for a large number of Councillors have recently been updated following a number of appointments to outside bodies made in recent weeks.”