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‘More proof needed that Tower Hamlets has recovered from claims of corruption and fraud’

50Minsters today refused to hand power back to Tower Hamlets without more proof that its council

has recovered from claims of corruption and fraud.

Cabinet minister Greg Clark said he had not seen enough evidence that the local authority had

completely moved on from bad practices uncovered in the days of disgraced former mayor Lutfur


The Government took control of the council in 2014 and sent commissioners in after inspectors

found “significant risk of misuse of public funds”.

Despite a call from the borough’s current mayor, John Biggs, for power to be returned this year,

Whitehall control is set to continue into 2017.

Mr Clark, the Communities Secretary, said: “Under the careful watch of the commissioners the

mayor is making progress.

“But there must be sufficient evidence of real organisational change before I will consider handing

any powers back.”

In 2014 inspectors found there was no effective monitoring and that 81 per cent of officer

recommendations on council grants were rejected by the authority’s political leadership.

Property had been sold without proper process and taxpayers’ money was spent on political

advertising for Mr Rahman.

He later lost power after being found guilty of corrupt and illegal practices by an electoral court.

In an ensuing election his Tower Hamlets First group was beaten by Labour, with Mr Biggs elected as


Mr Rahman then failed in his bid to overturn an order banning him from running for office for five


In October the Government allowed the borough to assume some control of day-to-day activities,

but last month Mr Biggs wrote to Mr Clark asking for the overall intervention to end.

The new mayor said: “We are of the view that an earlier and complete exit, during this calendar

year, should be possible.”

He highlighted new appointments to senior officer posts, including the chief executive and director

of resources, and the successful delivery of elections in 2015.

There was also action to bolster the council’s finances including £23.6 million worth of property

“disposals” and an expected 20 per cent increase in rental income to £4.5 million.

Responding in a letter seen by the Standard, Mr Clark said he understood “impatience for the

intervention to end”.

But he added: “I will need to be satisfied that there is sufficient evidence that change has been

embedded and key outcomes have been delivered before I will consider any variation to the current