The Birmingham Independent Improvement Panel today published a letter to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, its third report on the progress the Council has made in implementing the recommendations of the Kerslake Report.
The letter includes an assessment of the progress made by the Council in three key areas; the establishment of a City Partnership, the preparation of the Council’s long term financial strategy and improving the Council’s senior management capacity. All these were areas of concern to the Panel in its last letter to the Secretary of State in July. Although some progress has been made, significant risks and challenges remain in relation to the scale of the improvement programme.
The letter also refers to the recent announcement by Sir Albert Bore that he will be standing down as Leader of the Council at the end of November. The letter makes clear that the Panel has no role whatsoever in the decision as to who will replace him, which is entirely a matter for members of the City Council.
Commenting on the Panel’s letter John Crabtree, Chair of the Panel, said: “The new Leader will face a crucial few months in which the Council needs to demonstrate to its residents that it has the commitment and energy to drive forwardthe improvement programme, broker a different and more productive relationship between politicians and the Council’s senior managers, face up to the extremely challenging budget situation and evidence a transformation in its ways of working. It will be very important for the new leadership to work constructively with the Panel and we will continue to offer challenge, advice and support to the Council and do all we can to assist the new political leadership as it faces up to the significant challenges ahead.”
The letter also informs the Secretary of State that the City Council has been asked to publish a report setting out how it has implemented the Kerslake recommendations in December 2015, a year after the original review.
John Crabtree said: “We have asked the Council to address this report to the residents of the City to whom it is accountable. A public meeting is planned for the 14 December and we will be inviting residents to submit their questions relating to the Council’s progress report in advance so that the Panel can put some of these to the leadership of the Council and to the opposition leaders at the meeting. The Panel will be reporting on the Council’s progress again to the Secretary of State in January 2016.”
For further information please contact Louise Wright PA to John Crabtree Mobile 07828 078 227
In December 2014 Lord Kerslake published The way forward: an independent review of the governance and organisational capabilities of Birmingham City Council. Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government had asked Lord Kerslake to conduct the independent review.
Alongside the recommendations in the Kerslake report relating to action Birmingham City Council should take, Lord Kerslake recommended that the Secretary of State appoint an independent improvement Panel to work with the Council to provide robust challenge and support.
The Improvement Panel 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.
* The BIIP refers to The Executive Director of Change and Integrated Support Services – the job title is actually Strategic Director of Change and Integrated Support Services.