Tower Hamlets council fails to appoint chief executive amid government pressure

Tower Hamlets council was plunged into further disarray last night (Thurs) as councillors once again failed to appoint a chief executive, and voted to accept an offer of support from the government.

At a behind closed doors meeting at the Town Hall, councillors could not reach an agreement on a candidate to replace the outgoing head of Paid Services Stephen Halsey, who departs in mid January.

The confrontational meeting saw councillors from Mayor Lutfur Rahman’s Independent cabinet clash with Labour and Conservative councillors over who would be appointed as the council’s chief executive.

Mr Halsey was unveiled head of Paid Services in July, a year after Kevan Collins stepped down as chief executive in July 2011.

The council has since been unable to come to an agreement on a candidate, with a cross-party consensus and the Mayor’s approval required before an appointment can be made. Mr Rahman has been unable to appoint his preferred candidate, Aman Dalvi, after opposition councillors blocked the move.

Before Thursday’s meeting, the Local Government Association and London Councils wrote to the Mayor and the council’s party leaders, urging them to reach an agreement on a candidate and offering support from the government.

The letter raised the prospect of government intervention in the appointment process of the chief executive, warning of a “real risk to the performance and proper governance of the Council” if the issue is not addressed.

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Despite the warning, the council was unable to reach an agreement, leaving open the prospect of a government appointment to the �195k per year role.