Reforming local government (2) an agenda from Tower Hamlets

On the subject of local government reform, it is notable that another of our neighbours, Tower Hamlets, also has begun examining the status quo, in this case through the medium of a Transparency Commission, described in an August press release as follows:

‘The council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee has launched an Overview and Scrutiny Transparency Commission (OSTC) to identify actions the council should take to improve transparency, openness and accountability.

The Commission began its work at the July 27 Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC) meeting. The OSC meetings in September, October and November will each have a specific focus, exploring particular aspects of transparency, openness and accountability in the council.

Transparency was a key theme of the recent Mayoral election in Tower Hamlets. The government is also encouraging all councils to provide more information on how they are spending public money and about the decisions they make.

As part of its work, OSTC will take evidence from journalists, council officers, the Executive Mayor, relevant national organisations and other interested parties.

OSTC will also be conducting a survey of local residents and organisations to find out their views on transparency.

Councillor John Pierce, Chair of Overview and Scrutiny Committee said:

“We all want to move Tower Hamlet Council forward to enable it to become a beacon council for transparency, openness and accountability. Over the coming months, Overview and Scrutiny Transparency Commission will investigate and discuss ideas and make recommendations for the new Mayor to implement. Last year, the previous Mayor did not attend any of his Mayoral spotlight sessions. We need to make transparency a default on all decision making and access to information. We need to improve our council’s constitution to ensure no representative or decision maker within the council can ever evade public scrutiny again.”’

In response, the blog Love Wapping has made some interesting suggestions about necessary reforms, and provided links to the kind of things that are going on in other places, both in the UK and abroad, see here:

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