Poplar Papers 3 – Youth Service investigation 2019 puzzle

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We are in no huge hurry to publish all the Poplar Papers stories and we do like to be thorough. We will do our best to publish in chronological some order and explain what is happening as we go along but a lot of it is quite complex.

And a lot of it is also scarcely credible even for this borough.

The thing is that Tower Hamlets Council’s troubled Youth Service still seems to be in, er, trouble. Nothing new there then – kinda odd that it is always Youth Services though, innit?

More investigations into Youth Services

Towards the end of 2019 Love Wapping (previous home of the Wapping Mole) ran two stories about Tower Hamlets Youth Services, one in October about another review amid rumours of outsourcing the service to Poplar HARCA and then in November this story which mentioned the ‘efficiency’ of the 2019 Summer Programme of Events for young people that Youth Services organised.

No, we have not got our nines mixed up with our sixes. The previous Youth Service story was about the Summer Programme 2016 – this story is about the Summer Programme 2019. And a quick mention of the Summer Programme 2020 for fun.

All clear? No? Oh well. Join the club. For an administration that made an awful of noise about being ‘transparent and accountable’ even a mole has to wonder why Tower Hamlets council is so desperate to keep any information emerging about what it gets up to.

Was it something we said?

Precisely what has being going on with the 2019 Summer Programme is very difficult to find out.

We have asked Tower Hamlets Council for comment but they had not responded at the time of publication so we will have to go with what we know.

It seems that in 2019 Youth Services was being run by Ronke Martins-Taylor, Divisional Director Youth and Commissioning and Sandjea (Hunter-Clarke) Green, who had been Head of Youth Service since July 2018 after replacing Claire Belgard.

We say ‘it seems’ because senior officers tend to move around and get promoted quite quickly in some parts of the council and as such it is next to impossible to determine correct job titles at specific dates.

Ronke Martins-Taylor again

Both Ronke Martins-Taylor and Claire Belgard were referenced in our previous story about the Summer Programme 2016.

In October 2019 LBTH had refused a Freedom of Information (FoI) request from Love Wapping (FOI 18497789) asking for clarity on the situation but the request was refused on the grounds that releasing the information would prejudice an investigation.

East End Enquirer has still not been told by LBTH what this investigation was, but as whatever it was it seems all done and dusted now and we thought we could ask again. We have. We don’t expect a reply.

The reason we know that this latest enquiry into Youth Services has concluded is not because of an announcement by Tower Hamlets Council – because they have not made an announcement.

Fortunately East End Enquirer has numerous exceptionally reliable sources who tell us what is going on. We then tell you.


Youth Services Summer Programme 2019

It seems a key task for Sandjea (Hunter-Clarke) Green was to organise the Summer Programme 2019 and other related work and to this end she in turn hired several contractors to get stuff done.

LBTH Youth Service contractors payments document

Everybody out for Christmas!

However two separate independent sources have told East End Enquirer that Sandjea (Hunter-Clarke) Green, Head of Youth Service since July 2018, was dismissed in December 2019 after the investigation into undisclosed Youth Service issues concluded.

At the same time the contractors hired by Ms. (Hunter-Clarke) Green to undertake work on the Summer Programme of Events 2019 for young people also left LBTH.

Before everyone jumps to conclusions about either Sandjea (Hunter-Clarke) Green or the contractors she hired it may well be that they just left LBTH for perfectly normal reasons like having completed the work they were hired to do.

If this is the case why have Tower Hamlets Council refused to tell us? Who knows.

Youth Services Summer Programme 2020

What we do know is that because of the Covid-19 pandemic the Youth Services Summer Programme for 2020 is going to be virtual because lockdown means nobody can go anywhere and certainly not do anything in a group.

So this year instead of the jolly guys and gals being treated to organised sports and, er, stuff they will only be allowed to access activities via the interwebs.

What could possibly go wrong?

Here’s a list of issues to consider.

  • Any computer based activities present a highly elevated risk in terms of safeguarding participants, so what extra measures will LBTH Youth Service put in place to manage this risk?
  • There is a particular safeguarding risk relating to extremism – what is being done about this?
  • Have all personnel been subject to all necessary background checks including Disclosure Barring Service checks?
  • How will Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) being monitored to ensure commissioned services are properly delivered?
  • And finally has anyone checked how many ex-LBTH employees who now work for other organisations will be involved in the Summer Programme and the reasons for them leaving LBTH employment?

Next time on the Poplar Papers…

There is another part to this particular Youth Services story in the Poplar Papers which will give you a glimpse into how the current Labour administration of Tower Hamlets council works and starts to get to the core of this whole mucky business.

And it ain’t pretty.

But it is quite tricky to explain so Moley needs to draw a diagram or two. Of particular interest to you will be the unique career path of one person in particular. Which means that Poplar Papers 4 will not be published for a day or two.

Unless we get enthusiastic over the weekend. It does happen.

Come to think of it we might have to write another two stories first before we come back to this story.

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