Will Tuckley joins Tower Hamlets council with a pop at London Met University
PUBLISHED: 14:53 18 November 2015 | UPDATED: 15:00 18 November 2015
Will Tuckley was only days into his new job as Tower Hamlets' long-awaited Town Hall chief executive when he was already delving into political issues in London's East End.
The man filling the void caused by the year-long stalemate with the last mayor refusing to hire an executive to run the council's 5,000 staff and £1.2 billion budget is trying to stop the closure of the John Cass Arts & Humanities university campus.
He joined the new Mayor for top-level talks with the London Metropolitan Uni’s Vice Chancellor to try and reverse the closure -plan.
That was just a week after the Mayor’s public outcry against merging the centre into the university’s main north London campus.
“We were disappointed with way they communicated with us,” Will told the East London Advertiser. “We attached the importance the campus is to Tower Hamlets, with its 400 students.
“Education is important to our community. It was a good case for the Cass Arts School to remain in Whitechapel, given the economic vibrancy on the City Fridge.”
They offered to work with the university during a robust exchange of views.
Will Tuckley is not afraid to get to grips with inner city issues after his quieter role as chief executive at Bexley in the leafy suburbs of south-east London and way out in Croydon before that.
There is “a new recognition” of managerial leadership alongside political leadership that he feels was missing during the Lutfur Rahman’s years, following the isolation with the former Mayor’s Office that led the authority to drift without transparent leadership.
That caused the government to send in commissioners last December over allegations about the way the budget was run.
“But it’s my job to deliver for the council,” Mr Tuckley insists. “I would argue that the deficiency during period Tower Hamlets decided not to have a chief executive was a (wrong) ‘direction’ for the staff.”
He operates under the new administration’s transparency pledge with his 5,000 staff, compared to suburban Bexley’s 3,000.
The professions and skills local authorities have “need to be accountable through one route”, he tells you.
He wanted to work in London’s East End because “its a place with a sense of heritage and history round every street corner”. But he also sees huge potential for the future, bringing together economic prosperity with the needs of its people.
“We have to provide the link with good education and training, with aspirations for our young people to go to university,” he stresses.
“Poverty won’t hold them back. Low income doesn’t mean our young people won’t aspire.”
That’s what rankled him and the new Mayor over the closure threat to the Cass Arts centre and merging it into the London Met’s amorphous campus miles away in north London, making university opportunity that was once on the East End’s doorstep a little more remote.