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18.09.14

Kerslake won’t rule out break-up of Birmingham

Sir Bob Kerslake has refused to rule out recommending to ministers that Birmingham City Council should be broken up into smaller authorities.

Sir Bob was asked about splitting up the council and he said he could not “leave the issue unexplored”.

As previously reported by PSE, Sir Bob, who is the Department for Communities and Local Government permanent secretary, launched his review into the operation, culture and governance of Birmingham City Council earlier this month. The review was announced in July by council leader Sir Albert Bore and the communities and local government secretary, Eric Pickles MP, in the wake of the Trojan Horse affair.

In the Local Government Chronicle interview he said: “There are some areas where you would think size would be helpful in relation to economic planning and so on…But as the issue has been raised over quite a period of time…we ought to explore it. We can’t leave the issue unexplored.”

However, Sir Bob was quick to also say that England has big councils that function well, and that he did not have the power to take action in relation to Birmingham, any decision to break up the council would be “a matter for ministers to consider”.

“This review is not geared up or set up to make actions on that sort of issue but it can and should look at the questions that have been raised about size,” he said.

A spokesperson for Birmingham City Council refused to comment.

Birmingham has recently begun to implement a system known as “triple devolution”, in which the city’s governance will operate at three levels. Under this system, some local services will be run at a neighbourhood level; city-wide services will be run in closer partnership with other public bodies and regional issues will be determined in partnership with other councils.

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25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this feeling of imminent change than the article James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, has penned for us on p28. In it, he highlights... read more >