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Clancy promises to empower communities with ‘devolution revolution’

Clancy promises to empower communities with ‘devolution revolution’

🕔16.Nov 2015

Leadership challenger John Clancy has outlined plans for the most radical changes to the way Birmingham city council works in a generation, promising to hand powers to shape services directly to local communities.

Publishing the second half of his manifesto, Clancy said he would appoint four assistant council leaders with responsibility “for overseeing and enabling real devolution” if he is elected to replace Sir Albert Bore as council leader.

He wants to devolve control of rubbish collection, recycling, roads and pavements, trees, parks, lighting and community safety to “the most local appropriate areas”.

Cllr Clancy said:

We must see that decisions about our local areas are being influenced, shaped and led fundamentally in our most local areas. Devolution should be reset to reflect this.

The assistant council leaders would devise ways of bringing “real devolution of the most local influence over services and provision, and of its governance, challenge and scrutiny”.

He is stressing that community areas would be based as much on character, identity and need as geography and would not necessarily reflect the current ten parliamentary constituencies and 40 council wards.

“The challenges, opportunities and needs of Bartley Green are not necessarily those shared with Edgbaston ward, nor Shard End’s with, say, Bordesley Green”, added Clancy.

He is also promising to renegotiate the £2.8 billion contract to manage Birmingham’s roads and pavements the council has with Amey. This follows on from a previous pledge to scrap the Capita-Service Birmingham contract and transfer responsibility for the council’s IT services to local firms.

Commenting on the Amey contract, Cllr Clancy said: “We must look to renegotiate the entire contract, working with the Highways Agency and the Department of Transport so that, instead of being seen as a city-wide contract, it actually becomes part of the devolution process.”

Cllr Clancy said his commitment to devolve decision making to the most local level possible fitted in with recommendations in the Kerslake review into the city council’ governance capabilities.

Decisions need to be seen to be and actually influenced, shaped and led locally by communities. They should also involve those who locally deliver services, together with the actual users of the services of the council.

The influencing, shaping, leading and challenge of other public and third sector providers in the most local appropriate area needs to come locally too, in line with Kerslake principles.

He said the four assistant council leaders, or devolution champions, would challenge the council’s political and administrative leaders to “deliver real devolution in whatever way works in their areas and to deliver local processes of real local challenge and influence over all public services at the best local level”.

He is also promising to lead a debate about whether the cabinet and leader system should be replaced by the former committee system.

Cllr Clancy said his preference for the committee system was well known.

He added:

We would look in the interim, however, to develop a system which still involves more of our group in influencing the decision-making process.

He also wants to appoint deputy cabinet members to develop leadership and talent in the Labour group for the future, addressing a key Kerslake criticism that the council has failed to nurture talent and bring on the leaders of tomorrow.

Following a thorough audit of the knowledge, life-skills, and professional backgrounds of the group we would look to link those who wish to take on appropriate advisory roles to cabinet members.

He said Birmingham would become an open data council under his leadership.

We will move to a model of running and leading this city on the basis of transparency and co-operation with our own citizens, partners and businesses.

Personal protected data aside, the books and contracts and deals the city makes, and has made, will become a matter of public record.

This will better enable citizens, partners and businesses to help us and the city make the right choices. It will also enable others to identify how better to run and lead our city and make the best and most efficient use of our limited resources.

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