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Form an orderly queue for all-ticket Kerslake panel meeting

Form an orderly queue for all-ticket Kerslake panel meeting

🕔02.Sep 2015

A meeting of the improvement panel driving through culture change at Birmingham city council will be an all-ticket event because so many people want to attend.

In a scarcely believable development, officials have been scurrying to cram in extra seats for the eagerly anticipated session when council leaders will be grilled about the pace of reform.

The panel’s second public meeting will be at the Council House on September 11 in committee rooms three and four, with a maximum capacity for 84 people.

The first meeting earlier in the year was held in the council chamber, which can seat 120 people.

A switch to the committee rooms was made at the panel’s request, although the new venue is about half the size of the chamber.

A council spokesman said five people were initially placed on a waiting list, but have now been allocated seats in the room. “We are making every effort to create additional capacity,” he added.

Ticketless applicants need not be disappointed, however, since the session will be screened live via the council’s webcasting service.

The panel, chaired by Birmingham lawyer John Crabtree, was set up at the request of the Government following the critical Kerslake Review of Birmingham city council’s governance capabilities. The review exposed poor leadership over many years and the absence of any understandable improvement plan.

Panel members have been critical of what they see as the slow response to pushing through reforms demanded by Kerslake and have questioned whether council leaders fully understand and accept the scale of change required.

The council will publish the next stage of its improvement plan and a progress report before the meeting, where city leader Sir Albert Bore, his deputy Ian Ward and chief executive Mark Rogers will answer questions from the panel and members of the public.

The gathering promises to be a rare opportunity for anyone who can get a ticket to put a question without prior notice to the council bosses during a live webcast.

Mr Crabtree said:

At the first public meeting in June, the panel and members of the public present asked the leadership of the city council some challenging questions about progress. The public meeting in September will be an opportunity for the council to demonstrate that it is on track with the key changes needed, and to provide an update on its plans to listen more closely and respond to the views and aspirations of its residents.

I very much hope that anyone interested in the future of the city of Birmingham will take the opportunity to find out more and question the city’s leaders by attending in person or via webcast.

It was announced this week that the council is to be given £4.37 million by the Department for Communities and Local Government to support delivery of the post-Kerslake change programme.

A bid outlining the need for financial support was submitted to DCLG in June and a grant has been agreed to complement funds already identified by both the council and the Local Government Association to meet recommendations in the improvement plan, the delivery of which is being overseen by the Panel.

Specifically, the money will help deliver the Future Council plan by being used to fund additional staff capacity to ensure regular council business can continue as usual, provide specialist know-how not already within the council so helping to speed up existing improvement projects, and to fund extra improvement activity.

Sir Albert Bore said:

I am committed to delivering the improvements expected of us and I am pleased that the government has agreed to provide funds that will give even more impetus to the achievement of ambitions in our Future Council.

Whilst we are making progress, these extra funds will undoubtedly help us to accelerate the delivery of the changes in organisational governance and capability that are required.

It is encouraging that the DCLG has acknowledged this is something we were not able to do wholly within the council’s own limited resources and that it has endorsed our plans to modernise and create a council that is both fit and sustainable for the future.

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