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Public urged to submit questions for crucial Birmingham improvement panel meeting

Public urged to submit questions for crucial Birmingham improvement panel meeting

🕔30.Nov 2015

Members of the public have been invited to submit questions about the performance of the city council to the next meeting of the Birmingham Independent Improvement Panel on December 14.

The panel, set up to oversee delivery of the Kerslake Review reforms, is keen to take questions from Birmingham residents, which will be put to new Labour city council leader John Clancy and opposition group leaders Robert Alden (Con) and Paul Tilsley (Lib Dem).

The third public meeting of the panel is likely to be crucial to the future of the council.

Since being formed in January this year, the panel has twice reported to Communities Secretary Greg Clark its doubts that council leaders grasp the importance of Kerslake or recognise the scale of culture change required.

The Kerslake Review was particularly critical of poor leadership over many years and the council’s failure to work in partnership with other stakeholders and voluntary organisations.

Mr Clark has said further Government intervention may be necessary if the Kerslake reforms are not implemented at a faster pace – a warning taken to mean that the council may be run by Government appointed commissioners, effectively sacking the cabinet and leader.

The implicit threat of commissioners eventually forced the resignation of council leader Sir Albert Bore, who lost the support of some cabinet members and backbenchers. He will be replaced tomorrow by Cllr Clancy, who won the Labour group leadership with a majority of one vote.

A third panel progress report to be sent to Mr Clark in January will probably decide whether Cllr Clancy is given more time to turn the council around.

During his first few days in charge Cllr Clancy is expected to go out of his way to reassure the business community that the council is serious about implementing Kerslake particularly with regard to better partnership working.

He will also announce initiatives to work more closely with the council’s Conservative and Liberal Democrat groups on delivering ward-based improvement projects – addressing a key Kerslake criticism that opposition councillors are frozen out of the decision making process.

Although critical in the past about the performance of local enterprise partnerships, Cllr Clancy has already held talks with Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP chair Andy Street, who is also a non-executive director at DCLG.

On his first full day in the job Cllr Clancy is expected to meet Birmingham Chamber of Commerce chief executive Paul Faulkner to underline his commitment to generating economic growth through the expansion of small and medium sized enterprises.

Panel chair John Crabtree said:

December is an important milestone for the council. A year on from the Kerslake review the council will be reporting directly to the city’s residents about the improvements it has made and those it still needs to achieve. We want to give as many residents as possible the chance to raise questions about the improvements that are most important to them.

We are therefore inviting residents to send us the questions they would like the panel to ask. The panel will put as many residents’ questions to the council’s leadership as it can on 14 December. This will enable residents who can’t attend the meeting in person to have their questions answered as well as some of those who are in the audience.

Questions for Cllr Clancy, Cllr Alden, Cllr Tilsley and chief executive Mark Rogers can be asked in person at the meeting, which starts at 12 noon on December 14 in the council chamber, or submitted in advance to improvementpanel@birmingham.gov.uk by December 10.

Members of the public can attend the meeting in person or watch a webcast of the meeting on the Council’s website http://www.birmingham.public-i.tv/core/portal/home

To book to attend on the day residents can book via Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/birmingham-independent-improvement-panel-14-december-2015-registration-19360638190

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