Borough residents who watched the BBC London News package broadcast last night about the huge cuts to Tower Hamlets Youth Service may have been as surprised as Moley.

Moley, being a mole, immediately smelt a rat. In fact from the stench it might well have been from several rats.

The really odd thing was that somehow the borough’s media communications department had managed to get a prime slot on BBC London News.

You can watch it here BBC iPlayer 04/10/2021 BBC London – Evening News.

How did that happen? Maybe a call from the media comms department to the BBC with the promise of an exclusive?

That was a Tower Hamlets youth club?

The other odd thing about the report was that there was not a single person of Bangladeshi ethnicity shown in the package. About Tower Hamlets Youth Clubs.

There were two white guys with a guitar though. WTF? Maybe they were lost.

Cllr Asma Begum (Labour, Bow West) Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Children, Youth Services, Education and Equalities and Statutory Deputy Mayor was the one to face the camera, she looked a little tense for some reason.

Cllr Asma Begum suddenly realised this was not a Netflix audition

Odd that something so major is not announced by the Mayor, although technically this was not an announcement, just a TV broadcast to most of London, so he gets a pass on this one.

It seems to Moley that Tower Hamlets Council is attempting to set the news agenda (“Poor us! Poor councillors! Poor, poor us! It’s all the governments fault the borough is screwed!”) in the hope that the real news about Youth Services would remain buried, hence no link to info on Tower Hamlets web site, no nothing nowhere.

So how’s that plan going?

Here is the real news about Youth Services.

Oops!

All Youth Service Work Farmed Out

The Enquirer has been very reliably informed that all Youth Services are to be commissioned out by the Council with the main ones going to Poplar HARCA. We have asked Poplar HARCA for comment.

Mole has also been told that another contract is going to Sporting Foundation which is the renamed/rebranded Bangladesh Football Association.

Moley feels this is highly unlikely as Sporting Foundation has no experience whatsoever of youth work.

Cllr Tarik Khan’s current register of interests has no reference to Sporting Foundation we did happen to find a copy on the interwebs from 7th June 2019 which is handy innit?

Screen grab from Cllr Tarik Khan’s Register of Interests 7 June 2019

Good job that Cllr Tarik dumped the Sporting Foundation trustee position well before his wife handed out a Youth Service contract to it! Imagine the gossip!

Word on the Island

Although Cllr Tarik is no longer formally involved with Sporting Foundation word on the Isle of Dogs is that he stepped down ‘only so that it doesn’t show conflict of interest, but he is still involved, just not on paper.’

The bigger story than Cllr Tarik and Cllr Asma Begum is why large chunks of the Youth Service has been given to Poplar HARCA.

According to one source this “includes borough-wide contracts and contracts that they didn’t even bid for. Amazing third-sector organisations put bid, but they was side stepped.”

Poplar HARCA are a good organisation, but with the amount of work being contracted out might it not be a good idea to share the love?

As ever Mole can neither confirm or deny that when Mayor Biggs is just John Biggs he will be moving to Poplar HARCA as a director.

But if he does then it seems he will know a lot of faces. Which is nice.

Questions for Tower Hamlets Council

Q1 Following the recent procurement exercise please could you tell me which contracts were awarded to which organisations and the value of each contract?

Q2 Have any legal proceedings have been issued by any organisation regarding Youth Service contracts?

Q3 Our understanding is that for the Bow and Poplar youth clubs there is at least one contract that Poplar HARCA did not bid for and it was given to Poplar HARCA by the council. Is this correct?

Q4 One contract worth in the region of £300k per year has been given to Poplar HARCA but has not been signed yet as other organisations have put in legal challenge. Is this correct?

Moley will let you know if we ever get a response. Unlikely.

Many thanks to the local twitterati who alerted the Enquirer to this story, especially tweets like this.

Hi @asuzzia!

In answer to another tweet by @asuzzia this is the eighth major review / reorganisation / shell game move of Youth Services. But we might have missed a couple.

What’s your favourite Youth Service story?

You can read about the seventh major review of Youth Services in eight years here.

All our Youth Service stories can be read here and fascinating reading it is. (Yeah, we know we need to tighten up our tagging but we is busy!)

We checked with Mole and his most favouritest Youth Service story is this one about Abzal Ali, Interim Head of Youth Service and his odd lack of qualifications.

A quick straw poll of the entire Enquirer editorial team found that their favourite Youth Service story was the one about Mayor Biggs protecting a Youth Service officer from investigation.

This was the runner up Poplar Papers 4 – the £1,288,815 AP1 Voucher Payments.

Let’s hope the guys pay back the £1,288,815 before they leave Youth Services!

Pip pip!

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