Democratic powers could soon be handed back to Tower Hamlets Council two years after the Government removed them in the wake of the Lutfur Rahman scandal.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) confirmed the borough had made “significant progress” since powers were removed in December 2014.

Communities secretary Sajid Javid is now considering returning grant-making powers to the authority and a reduction in the number of commissioners, installed to oversee the council’s progress, from four to three.

In a letter to the council, the department said: “The Secretary Of State acknowledges that the authority has made significant progress with improving the conduct of elections in the borough.

“The appointment of new CEO Will Tuckley as the council’s returning officer has strengthened election management structures and both the GLA elections and the EU Referendum were delivered successfully this year.”

Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs welcomed the decision

The decision comes after independent councillor Shahed Ali was jailed for five months in October due to housing tenancy fraud, triggering the recent Whitechapel by-election.

He was associated with the regime of former Tower Hamlets mayor Mr Rahman, who was removed from office in April 2015 after the High Court found him guilty of electoral fraud.

The mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said: “I welcome this vote of confidence from the Secretary of State, which reflects the progress we have made as a council and our ambitions to become more outward-looking, transparent and effective at providing the best possible services to our residents. We continue to learn the lessons of the past and to repair the damage left by my predecessor.

“We look forward to working closely with the remaining commissioners, the Secretary of State and the DCLG in having full democratic control returned to the council as soon as possible.”

Tower Hamlets is due to submit its next update to Mr Javid in March 2017.

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