Birmingham recalls Improvement Panel following ‘serious setbacks’

Birmingham City Council’s improvement panel is to stay at the city, despite the authority telling the DCLG that it no longer required its services last month.

The council had previously written to Sajid Javid to recommed that the panel, who were called in to drive forward with major financial improvements at the cash-strapped and struggling council, step back following progress being made by the authority.

But now, after a torrid few weeks for the city council as it was dealing with industrial action from its refuse workers leading to the resignation of its leader John Clancy, the decision has been made to call back the Improvement Panel.

“I regret to report that there has recently been a serious setback to the progress we reported to you on 4 August,” the letter from council chair John Crabtree read.

“In our last letter we recommended that the Improvement Panel should suspend its operation with the vice chair and panel adviser maintaining contact with the council. However, following the events of recent weeks the council now faces a period of significant transition.

“At the same time the council has recognised, as we explained in our previous letter, that it still has a great deal of ‘catch up’ work to do for the council to function with fully effective corporate governance and major change programmes to modernise its key services over the next five years.

“The panel met recently with Cllr Ian Ward and Stella Manzie, interim chief executive, to discuss the current situation. They agree that it will be helpful for the Improvement Panel to remain in place, providing advice and support to the council until it can demonstrate that the changes in culture and governance still required are truly embedded.”

Cllr Ward also added: “I will continue to work with the Improvement Panel to achieve the best possible outcomes for Birmingham and its citizens. I look forward to further detailed discussions regarding the next stages of our improvement journey.”

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