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Threat of commissioners recedes as Clark shows faith in Clancy

Threat of commissioners recedes as Clark shows faith in Clancy

🕔10.Dec 2015

Claims that Government commissioners would be drafted in to run Birmingham if John Clancy became city council leader have been turned on their head by the Communities Secretary.

Greg Clark said he believed Councillor Clancy would implement the Kerslake governance reforms “with vigour” and added that the council was “heading in the right direction”.

Clark cautioned that the council could still be taken over if it fails to make sufficient progress by the New Year, but his assessment of improvements that have already taken place is the most positive yet to come from the Government.

The Kerslake Review was published a year ago and heavily criticised the council for poor leadership.

An independent improvement panel was established to oversee reform and spent most of 2015 questioning whether the council’s leadership understood and was fully committed to the need for huge culture change, in particular embracing partnership working.

Cllr Clancy became council leader a little more than a week ago, taking over from Sir Albert Bore.

The Labour leadership election campaign was marked by councillors, including some cabinet members, claiming that a radical change programme promised by John Clancy would result in the commissioners being sent in by Mr Clark.

They suggested the Government would not permit Clancy, who has no previous cabinet experience, to run the council because he was a “novice”.

Mr Clark’s remarks, reported in the Birmingham Mail, suggest that the improvement panel now believes the council is moving in the right direction.

The Communities Secretary told the Mail:

I certainly am hopeful that John Clancy will do what he’s told me he intends to do, which is to implement the Kerslake recommendations with vigour.

Cllr Clancy said he was heartened by Mr Clark’s remarks.

He added:

One of my first tasks as leader has been to convince Government that we can step-up the pace to deliver the changes set out in the Kerslake Review. That’s why I’ve already had a very constructive meeting with Greg Clark MP, and Lord Heseltine.

I assured them of my commitment to making Birmingham City Council a more outward looking organisation – one that can work more closely and collaboratively with partner organisations from the grassroots up.

Let’s face it, we’re under the spotlight like never before here in Birmingham and we have to show that we understand, and indeed, embrace the need for change.

The Kerslake Review was a wake-up call and, while progress has undoubtedly been made in the last 12 months, there is still a lot of hard work to be done to satisfy the Birmingham Independent Improvement Panel.

The council leader added that he was looking forward to appearing before a public session of the improvement panel on December 12.

The meeting at the Council House, which starts at 12pm, will be webcast live here: http://www.birmingham.public-i.tv/core/portal/home

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