Tower Hamlets and Rotherham

I have posted the recent reports on Tower Hamlets and Rotherham in the documents box on the left. Each discuses a disturbing range of pathologies, and more of these than is comfortable have echoes in Waltham Forest. For example, two passages from the Rotherham report particularly resonate: ‘RMBC [Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council] has a culture of suppressing bad news and ignoring difficult issues. This culture is deep-rooted; RMBC goes to some length to cover up information and to silence whistle-blowers’ (p.11). and ‘Cover up in RMBC needs to be looked at within the culture of a Council that, as has already been described, does not welcome challenge and chooses inste... »

Documenting Past Failures: (4) NRF, EduAction, and the Youth At Risk programme

Between 2003 and 2006, LBWF paid EduAction £340,000 for a programme called ‘Youth at Risk’, the objective of which was to reduce exclusions from schools in targeted areas, broadly the poorer parts of the borough. From 2006 onwards, rumours about this programme began to spread, with the central allegation being that EduAction had not spent the money as intended. Various investigations ensued, and a complaint was made to the police. The issue rumbled on, receiving extensive coverage in the Waltham Forest Guardian (see links below). Finally, in 2010, thanks to the persistence of several campaigners and whistleblowers, together with sterling work by Iain Duncan Smith MP, the Information Commissi... »

Documenting Past Failures: (3) NRF, EduAction and an open letter to Cllr. Chris Robbins

One of the outside organisations that LBWF paid NRF monies to was EduAction, or more properly EduAction Waltham Forest Ltd., a joint venture formed by Amey Plc (‘one of today’s leading public services providers’) and Nord Anglia Education. In the 2000s, EduAction ran the schools in the borough, after a damning Ofsted report at the turn of the century had disposed of the idea that the local authority was up to the job. It was always said that EduAction was receiving NRF monies to help it run special programmes, aimed for instance those at those most at risk of failure or truancy. However, I was never convinced, and gradually, too, LBWF’s relations with EduAction came under increas... »

Documenting Past Failures: (2) NRF and Dr. Foster

The Dr. Foster episode is one that always will be close to my heart, not only because it demonstrated everything that was wrong about the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund (NRF)/Better Neighbourhoods Initiative (BNI) programme, but also because it had a surprising kick in the tail, and one that was highly gratifying to me. The story is as follows – and I apologise for the minutiae, but as will become clear, they are necessary to expose the scale of the duplicity that occurred. In late 2006, LBWF’s Local Strategic Partnership (LSP), chair Cllr. Clyde Loakes, paid Dr Foster Intelligence (DFI) £47,150 from the BNI budget to produce a report which would focus on the most deprived areas in the borough, ... »

Documenting Past Failures: (1) Introduction

Over the coming months, and at irregular intervals, I’ll be posting Documenting Past Failures pieces, which will look at some of the episodes that I’ve been involved in since 2004, broadly in chronological sequence. To start with, I’ll be looking mostly at how LBWF used Neighbourhood Renewal Fund monies. The background is as follows. In 2001, the government launched a new National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal which aimed to reverse long-term decline in wards defined as ‘deprived’ by tackling key issues (such as poor health, worklessness, and crime), and at the same time empowering local residents, so that the impetus for change would be self-sustaining (Social Exclusi... »

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