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Clancy’s open diary shows determination to ‘get out of the Council House’

Clancy’s open diary shows determination to ‘get out of the Council House’

🕔14.Dec 2015

John Clancy has released details of meetings he has held since becoming the leader of Birmingham city council, in a demonstration of his commitment to openness and “getting out of the Council House”.

At the top of his agenda is a determination to convince the Government that Birmingham is on course to deliver reforms set out in the Kerslake Review and to play a full role in the emerging West Midlands Combined Authority.

Addressing Kerslake’s criticism that Birmingham city council has a “know it all” attitude and is very poor at partnership working, Cllr Clancy visited Newport city council in South Wales to see in practice a pioneering children’s social services initiative where the council works with Barnardo’s.

Cllr Clancy said Newport council officials were “stunned that the leader of Birmingham could turn up to learn something from a relatively small authority”.

His visit came as David Cameron, the Prime Minister, warned that failing children’s social care departments could be taken over by other councils and charities if they did not improve after being given six months’ notice. The Government has already sent in experts to run Sunderland council’s social services after “serious and widespread failings” were discovered.

Birmingham’s children’s social care department has been in special measures for seven years and is being overseen by a Government-appointed commissioner, Sir Mike Tomlinson, with whom Cllr Clancy has also held lengthy discussions.

Mr Cameron said the state is “failing” some of the country’s most vulnerable children but vowed the changes would ensure that “not a single child is left behind”.

Insisting that the Government was serious about “confronting state failure and tackling some the biggest social problems in our country”, Mr Cameron promised “landmark” reforms to make poorly performing local authorities improve or be taken over.

The latest reports suggest some progress in Birmingham and there are claims social services may have turned the corner, but Cllr Clancy will want to keep his foot firmly on the accelerator.

Since taking office on December 1, Cllr Clancy has met Communities Secretary Greg Clark, Tory devolution guru Lord Heseltine, and Business Secretary Sajid Javid, who is Government champion for the Midlands Engine devolution programme.

He’s also “spoken at length” with Marcus Jones, the local government minister, and held two discussions with Andy Street, chair of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP and a key aide to Mr Clark.

On a rather more sombre note, last week Clancy received a full counter-terrorism briefing from the deputy chief constable of the West Midlands, Marcus Beale. The meeting coincided with reports that the security services are investigating connections between those responsible for the Paris terrorist outrages and communities in Birmingham.

The council leader has spoken with all of the leaders of the district councils who are members of GBSLEP, has met WMCA chair and Solihull council leader Bob Sleigh several times.

He’s met the leader of Nottingham council, Jon Collins, the leader of Sandwell council, Darren Cooper, the leader of Wolverhampton council, Roger Lawrence, and the leader of Walsall council, Mike Bird.

He’s attended a meeting of the Birmingham Corporate social responsibility Board along with chamber of commerce chief executive Paul Faulkner.

Cllr Clancy has had a “long” meeting with David Eastwood, vice-chancellor of Birmingham University, has met Jacqui Smith, chair of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust, and has spoken at length with David Urquhart, the Bishop of Birmingham.

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