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‘You’ve all done very well, but must do better’, Clancy tells council chiefs

‘You’ve all done very well, but must do better’, Clancy tells council chiefs

🕔15.Jul 2016

Birmingham council leader John Clancy has warned the authority’s highest-paid officers that they have got to work together more effectively as a team.

He said that while some progress had been made in breaking down silo mentality, there was room for improvement and the council’s workforce still does not regard the chief officers as “a strategic corporate unit”.

He made his remarks in a written report to the corporate resources and governance scrutiny committee. Cllr Clancy will be questioned in public by the committee on Monday July 18 about his performance since becoming council leader last December.

Cllr Clancy said the Corporate Leadership Team (CLT) headed by chief executive Mark Rogers “now has the right people in place and a clear sense of purpose, urgency, focus and direction needed to drive forward the required improvement”.

However, he cautioned:

While there has been progress in breaking down silos, there is still room for improvement in operating as a strategic corporate unit. Staff feedback suggests the wider workforce does not yet see CLT as a unified team.

He said the CLT had to display a clear vision to guide the workforce, and get a grip on performance across all service areas.

Reducing red tape will help staff feel it is easier for them to work effectively and efficiently. CLT and senior officers will be working together as an extended leadership team.

The dangers of the chief officers taking a blinkered “silo approach”, almost competing against each other rather than heading up a combined strategic team, was highlighted in the critical Kerslake Review into the council’s governance capabilities.

In his report Cllr Clancy says teamwork must also extend to the three political parties.

He says a new leadership approach will see cabinet members focused on a “collective vision and shared priorities with partners”, while all three group leaders – Labour, Conservative and Libderal Democrat  – will be seen together frequently at key events and platforms, “adopting a more systematic approach to cross-party working”.

To achieve this, we must ensure our systems can support and embed a new way of working – for example, we are reviewing and changing the way members are involved in internal and external structures.

Monthly meetings between the chief executive and three group leaders started in March 2016. Members will be supported through a new member induction programme, peer mentoring and bespoke training.

He outlined six priorities for the year ahead – a strong economy, safety and opportunity for all children, a great future for young people, thriving local communities, a healthy happy population, and a modern council.

Cllr Clancy said he would set out “bold new plans to provide more affordable new homes and support everyone in the city to secure a decent place to live”. He also underlined a commitment to make better use of the council’s assets and secure resources from local economic growth.

He is devising proposals for ‘Brummie Bonds’ and working with the West Midlands Pension Fund (WMPF) to use its assets to support the West Midlands Strategic Economic Plan.

The council leader will begin a campaign to make Birmingham a Free School Meal city – through business sponsorship and forms of investment such as social enterprise and social impact bonds.

But the council’s number one priority is to keep improvement plans for children’s social services and schools on track.

Cllr Clancy said the council had made significant progress in delivering culture change recommendations in the Kerslake Review and this had been recognised as “a solid foundation” by the Birmingham Independent  Improvement Panel which will meet in the autumn to assess the council’s progress. He added:

To achieve our vision we must restore independence and pride to our municipal governance, for example through our devolution deal. To do that, we must be free of government intervention and in charge of our own destiny.

There are many excellent examples of partnerships between the City Council and others that are delivering services and projects, but at a corporate level we need to do much more to put in place effective new partnership arrangements in line with the vision and strategic principles.

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