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Greg Clark considering ‘further measures’ if council reforms continue to stall

Greg Clark considering ‘further measures’ if council reforms continue to stall

🕔05.Nov 2015

Local Government Secretary Greg Clark is concerned at “slow progress” by Birmingham city council in delivering the Kerslake Review reforms and has warned “further measures” may have to be taken by the Government to force the pace of change.

Mr Clark was replying to a letter from Birmingham Independent Improvement Panel chair John Crabtree, which warns that the council is “at a crossroads” and must do better.

Mr Clark announced he was extending the lifetime of the improvement panel until the end of March 2016 and has asked for a further progress report in January.

Responding to Mr Crabtree, the Local Government Secretary said:

I found your analysis of the situation thorough, and I am grateful for your Panel’s work.

Whilst you have indicated that some progress has been made, the significant risks you and your Panel have outlined in relation to the slow progress in developing a City Partnership and an agreed vision for the City; a long term financial strategy, and in securing the senior management capability required for the size of the Council are concerning.

In the context of these concerns and the Council’s financial position, I am hereby extending the Panel’s oversight until the end of March 2016, so that you will continue to be available to oversee progress and the entire budget setting process. I welcome your promise of a further update in early January, following your planned public meeting on 14 December.

At that point I will be particularly interested in your views on how effectively the leadership is working with the Panel, and your judgement on whether the Council has made adequate progress, or whether further measures will need to be taken.

I would be grateful if you and your Panel would write to me before your planned update in January if any issues of immediate concern arise before that point.

Mr Clark’s intervention appears to confirm that time is running out for the council to deliver the culture change demanded by Kerslake – better leadership, vastly improved partnership working and moving away from a ‘we know best’ attitude.

The latest panel letter to Mr Clark, the third this year, states that limited progress has been made by the council and goes on to say the next two months will be a crucial period as the authority moves to new leadership following the resignation of Sir Albert Bore.

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