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Two directors leave Newham days after new mayor takes office

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Two senior officers at Newham LBC have left the council only days after new mayor Rokhsana Fiaz (Lab) took office.

Director of finance Deborah Hindson and chief operating officer Nick Bracken have left the council in the past fortnight, according to internal correspondence seen by LGC.

Newham LBC had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

Internal emails from the council’s marketing and information team reveal that Ms Hindson and Mr Bracken both decided to leave of their own volition.

Ms Hindson’s resignation was announced on 8 May in an email “wish[ing] her well for the future”.

Newham’s audit committee, of which Ms Fiaz was a member, heard in April how Ms Hindson had accepted responsibility for an “alarming” range of problems and control weaknesses in the council’s financial systems. Janet Dawson, partner at auditors Ernst and Young, told the audit committee how £7.5m had been ‘found’ after isolating and correcting problems with financial reporting.

Ms Hindson said during the meeting: “I can reassure you we do have strong financial controls, we just need to know what went wrong. But this is my statutory responsibility and I have been here the whole time. The old financial system was not fit for purpose. Everything was inaccurate.”

On 4 May, the same day that Ms Fiaz took office, it was announced that Mr Bracken had decided to retire.

Mr Bracken told LGC his decision to retire was not due to a “sulk over the new regime”, adding that the change in mayor felt like the right moment to retire.

“I just didn’t feel I had the energy and commitment to continue. I only intended to do two or three years in this role and that became seven. My decision to retire wasn’t over any big fall-out,” he said.

Mr Bracken joined the council in 2011, the same year as Ms Hindson, as director for community safety and enforcement.

 

 

 

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