Tower Hamlets Council LGA Peer Review
Tower Hamlets Council received surprisingly positive feedback during an initial feedback session given by Local Government Association (LGA) Peers as part of a regular Peer Review.
The LGA requires local authorities to have peer reviews every 4-5 years to monitor performance, governance and conduct. Representatives from other councils around the country acting as LGA Peers conducted an in-depth review of Tower Hamlets Council.
The Peers conducted interviews with 175 people in the council, including politicians, staff at all levels and council partners.
The full report is due to be published in the spring of 2024, but Councillors and the senior leadership team were invited to an initial summary briefing.
Overall feedback: the LGA peers acknowledged that the council is in transition, given the recent change in political leadership. The political change has triggered an almost wholesale change in the senior leadership team of the council, with only one senior director still in place since before May 2022. My own impression chimes with the Peers’ conclusion of an exuberant council open to change and feedback. However, I am conscious that the exuberance must be turned into real results for the people of Tower Hamlets. Only time will tell if the energy recently injected into the council will result in real change on the ground.
Negative feedback: the Peer team identified several things needing improvement:
- Full Council meetings are fractious and reflect badly on the borough externally;
- lack of women in the administration means women feel their lived experience is not represented by the council;
- inefficient, unclear and unsustainable decision-making procedures which have seen everything referred to the Mayor or CEO to be signed-off;
- senior leadership team does not reflect the diversity of the borough.
Positive feedback: there were many items which the Peers identified as being done very well by Tower Hamlets:
- Exceptional delivery on the political priorities of the new administration;
- the whole organisation has an open and transparent attitude about failings and the potential for learning;
- excellent relationships with partners, especially the Police;
- internal and external council communications is in line with best practice around the country;
- really strong people in the key places in senior and middle management;
- annual Staff Awards event is really popular among staff and creates sense of unity.
Altogether, the feedback was more positive than expected, and I feel glad that the council is in seemingly such a good place to achieve.
We all know that Tower Hamlets is an exciting place to live; it’s great to know that the Council appears to be taking the challenge to get its performance up to scratch as seriously as residents expect.