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Fundamental change in the culture and style of leadership at Council essential – Communities Secretary

Fundamental change in the culture and style of leadership at Council essential – Communities Secretary

🕔09.Sep 2015

Greg Clark, the Communities Secretary, has said that a change in the culture and style of leadership at Birmingham City Council is essential if the authority is to have a stable and sustainable future, reports Kevin Johnson

The Secretary of State also emphasised that he has not ruled out further “measures”, depending on the improvement panel’s assessment in its next report.

Responding to the last progress letter from the Birmingham Independent Improvement Panel, and a subsequent meeting with its members, Clark said:

…I am writing now simply to emphasise, as we all agreed, the importance of securing a fundamental change in the culture and style of leadership at the heart of the Council. Such change is essential if the Council is to have a stable and sustainable future, provide the leadership the City needs, address the challenges it faces, and deliver the efficient and effective services local people right expect.

I will want to consider [the next report from the Panel] very carefully before deciding how best to proceed and whether any further measures may be needed to secure the long term improvement in Birmingham we are all seeking.

Greg Clark thanked panel members for their commitment and ongoing work.

Birmingham city council published its latest letter reporting on progress to the panel last Friday. Council leader Sir Albert Bore told panel chair John Crabtree: “Birmingham has listened, I have listened.”

Sir Albert played down the significance of the letter with fellow councillors. He passed a copy of the letter to members of the Birmingham Labour Group of councillors commenting:

The second paragraph in the letter simply reiterates the comments in the earlier letter from Panel Chair, John Crabtree to [Secretary of State], Greg Clark.

Therefore, there is nothing new being said and, indeed, the issues raised in the letter from the [Greg Clark] are all dealt with in my letter to the Birmingham Independent Improvement Panel (BIIP), sent out to you last week.

The panel is staging a public meeting, featuring the leader, deputy leader and chief executive of the council, this Friday. Chamberlain Files will be covering live.

In December 2014 Lord Kerslake published a withering review of the local authority, The way forward: an independent review of the governance and organisational capabilities of Birmingham City Council. In the report, he recommended that the Secretary of State appoint an independent improvement Panel to work with the Council to provide robust challenge and support. It was set up in January 2015. Its members are John Crabtree OBE (chair), Frances Done CBE (vice chair), Cllr Keith Wakefield (former leader of Leeds City Council), and Steve Robinson (chief executive of Cheshire West and Chester Council). Sir Mike Tomlinson, as a children’s services commissioner for Birmingham, is an ex-officio member.

You can see our full coverage of the Kerslake Review and its aftermath here.

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