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Commission launched to root out Town Hall secrecy and make Tower Hamlets accountable

PUBLISHED: 13:37 30 July 2015

Tower Hamlets Council's new commission

Tower Hamlets Council's new commission

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A commission has been set up in London’s East End to make Tower Hamlets council more accountable and transparent after five years of secrecy by deposed mayor Lutfur Rahman.

Tower Hamlets Council and (inset) ex-mayor Lutfur RahmanTower Hamlets Council and (inset) ex-mayor Lutfur Rahman

It comes in the wake of Rahman’s controversial grants to certain organisations and how his executive decisions were made in running the authority’s £1.2 billion budget—which led to his downfall when he was barred from office by the High Court in April.

The new Commission began its work at the council’s Overview and Scrutiny committee on Monday.

“The previous Mayor didn’t attend any ‘spotlight’ sessions last year,” Overview Chair John Pierce revealed. “We need to make transparency a ‘default’ on all decision-making and access to information to ensure no decision-maker can ever evade public scrutiny again.”

The Commission will investigate ideas over the coming months for the new Mayor to implement. Committee meetings planned for September, October and November will each have a specific focus, exploring particular aspects of openness in the authority.

It is to take evidence from journalists, the Mayor, council officers and other interested parties as well as run a survey of residents and organisations.

“Transparency” was a theme of the June 11 re-run Mayor’s election which brought John Biggs to Office after Rahman was disqualified for malpractice when a judge accused him of “retreating into a bunker”.

The government is now keen for town halls to give out more information on how they spend public money and the decisions they make.

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