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Now Boris slaps audit on Tower Hamlets budget after Eric Pickles' probe

PUBLISHED: 17:35 19 November 2014 | UPDATED: 17:35 19 November 2014

London Mayor Boris Johnson

London Mayor Boris Johnson

Carmen Valino

Boris Johnson has ordered an audit of GLA funds handed over to Tower Hamlets—following on from Secretary of State Eric Pickles’ controversial audit which uncovered “lack of transparency” in Town Hall accounts.

London Assembly's Andrew Boff [inset] calls for 2nd audit of Tower Hamlets budgetLondon Assembly's Andrew Boff [inset] calls for 2nd audit of Tower Hamlets budget

This second blow for the East End’s embattled local Mayor Lutfur Rahman comes as the Communities Secretary prepares to send in audit commissioners to take charge of the council’s £1.2 billion budget for the next three years including hiring senior officers.

The move was announced at the London Mayor’s Question Time at City Hall today, when Assembly member Andrew Boff called for an investigation to see if GLA funds have been spent “in the proper manner” by the Rahman administration.

“Tower Hamlets has fallen far short of basic standards when awarding (its own) grants,” Mr Boff said. “It forced the Department of Culture to send in auditors to investigate.

“The council is now facing external commissioners to run its grant allocations function.”

Tower Hamlets has received £11 million from the GLA, Mr Boff pointed out.

So London Mayor Johnson has been asked to set up a ‘task force’ to ensure the money “was spent in proper way” by Tower Hamlets.

This includes £6m for High Street regeneration at Whitechapel and Bethnal Green and £5m for local transport schemes. The second audit would also look into the £105m Government funding for the Decent Homes programme, it is understood.

The original PriceWaterhouse-Coopers audit ordered by Eric Pickles uncovered irregularities in how Tower Hamlets dished out grants to organisations including many that did not meet the authority’s own criteria, as well as selling off public assets like Poplar Town Hall for knock-down bargain basement prices to the Mayor’s supporters.

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