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The borough is like the mad, bad uncle who left his family to start a new life with a woman half his age but has returned, repentant and wiser.

Tower Hamlets with Canary Wharf in the background

Tower Hamlets with Canary Wharf in the background

In boardrooms, over scale models of flashy skyscrapers, around the tables of Canary Wharf restaurants over a nice bottle of Henri Bourgeois 2012 Jadis Sauvignon Blanc, on the plush banquettes of City Hall – an audible sigh of relief.

It’s… it’s OK to talk about Tower Hamlets again.

For years, Tower Hamlets Council was akin to the slightly deranged uncle who had always been the fuel for zany anecdotes but essentially harmless.

Then, one day five years ago, a midlife crisis struck, he fled these shores with a woman half his age and set up a nudist colony is Kaiteriteri Beach, New Zealand, selling driftwood as art and leaving his long-suffering family penniless and bereft.

He was no longer the benign lovable eccentric.

Instead he was the dastardly, deranged black sheep, rarely discussed and never, ever, invited for Christmas.

He was the one that the children had heard about but only if they tuned their hearing to adult whispers of opprobrium and exasperation.

But then, in a moment of maturity and epiphany, Mad Uncle Hamlets realised the error of its ways. Said farewell to his girlfriend and hello to a pair of pants. With sorrow in his heart and regret coursing through his veins, he rejoined the fold.

Says a grey-bearded elder, clutching a ledger: “There will be more joy in the London Council steering committee over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous, fiscally prudent councils who need no repentance.”