I along with Cllr Ehtasham Haque (Blackwall and Cubitt Town), Cllr Gabriela Salva (St. Peters), Cllr Shad Cowdhury (Spitalfileds and Bangla Town), Cllr Shah Shuhel Ameen (Whitechapel) have signed a ‘Call In’ asking for the decision by the Mayor to be reconsidered. The meeting at the Council will be at 6 pm, Wednesday 14th August 2019. Please find below the text of the ‘Call In.’
REPORT TITLE/DATE OF CABINET MEETING
Local Community Fund – Wednesday 31st July 2019 Cabinet Meeting
REASONS FOR “CALL IN”
- The Equality Analysis 6.2a shows that there are many gaps in the proposed awards of the Local Community Fund 6.2f. For example, no groups from the Somali Community (for example Wadajir Somali Community Centre and Somali Parent and Play Association ) were awarded any funding, neither are any organised play groups, or old peoples luncheon clubs. Focusing on the particular case of play, some of the most vulnerable families and children use services at Toyhouse, Attlee Centre, Weavers Adventure Playground, Glamis Adventure (run by Shadwell Community Project) and SPLASH Play all of whom were not recommended for LCF funding. There was 131 applicants organisations, majority of the unsuccessful applicants appear to be BAME lead. For example:
- Tower Hamlets Parents Centre
- Vallance Community Association
- Limehouse Welfare
- Cubitt Town Association
- Locksley and Turners Residents Association
- Boundary Association
Certain Parts of the Boroughs were not geographically covered, for example Wapping Bangladeshi Association, Stifford and BYM/
There is not enough clarity around the delivery plan for the mitigation measures set out in paragraph 3.56 of the report. The mitigation report and the Local Community Fund 6.2 are linked and should be subject to the same level of scrutiny. As the decision is published that is not the case.
Third, the framework adopted in the Local Community Fund is one contrary to one currently adopted by the Executive. On the 31st October 2018, lead Cabinet member for Environment Cllr David Edgar 6.8 Waste and Cleansing Management Delivery Options cited the APSE paper, ‘Insourcing: A guide to bringing Local Authority services back in house’. The paper calls into question reliance on market-based approaches to meet public service aspirations. APSE along with CLES has helped Local Authorities throughout the country do spend analysis as a means of an additional toolkit when making procurement decisions. In the context of the Local Community Fund, there were no audits carried out with the applicants in terms of gender, BAME, and locality of employees, including pay gaps within the organisation in terms of local demographic representation.
Fourth, there are legitimate concerns raised that the organisations listed in 6.2f have already have funding in place for other funding via the Council, for example Youth Provision and Tower Hamlets Homes.
There are legitimate questions around the rigorousness and transparency the procurement process and suitability of the East London Community Foundation (EECF) as the independent assessor, bringing into question the recommendations made in 6.2f.
The procurement process for external assessor only received one bid when there are many local and national organisation with relevant competence should have been attracted to ensure value for money. This has raised concerns from community stakeholders on the transparency of procurement process.
Make up of EECFs management team lacks diversity, raising legitimate questions on how they would have applied the spirit of diversity, equality in assessing grant application from a very diverse third sector in Tower Hamlets.
The LCF should be considering the asset management policy of the council. Therefore, any rent increases should be revenue neutral, a good example is the Limehouse Welfare Association, which is facing rent increases, therefore any grant allocated will go towards the rent and not towards the organisations activities.
ALTERNATIVE COURSE OF ACTION PROPOSED
To delay the decision of Local Community Fund programme and funding to individual organisations as set out in appendix F to the report for a period of 42 months from 1st October 2019 to 31st March 2023, till the cabinet meeting of 25th September 2019. This will allow the plan for the mitigation measures set out in paragraph 3.56 of the report to go to Overview and Scrutiny for the 23rd September 2019.
If necessary extend the MSG programme by a month, and delay the implementation by a month, so as to provide coverage in terms of services while the decision goes to the Cabinet meeting on the 25th September 2019.
This will allow the Council time to do spend analysis, and audits of organisations listed in 6.2f, in terms of gender, BAME and locality. Also, allow the Council to answer legitimate questions of double (in some cases triple) dipping by organisations in 6.2f in terms of Council funding. The council already does this in terms of gender amongst its own employees.
Therefore the spend analysis, as well as the mitigation report should be sent to all elected members to allow them to consider and feedback on the report.
That both reports should be given to all elected members, and views given to a special session of Overview and Scrutiny before the September 2019 Cabinet meeting, as there are legitimate concerns with regard to the awarding of the East End Community Foundation as the independent assessor for applicants to the Local Community Fund. Therefore elected members can express their views in terms of 6.2f, spend analysis and mitigation report. The views to go back to Cabinet on the 25th September 2019 for final consideration.