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DCLG returns most powers to Rotherham council

Most decision-making powers will now be returned to Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council by the DCLG, a statement by communities secretary Sajid Javid has announced. 

Around two years ago, in February 2015, the government put in place five commissioners to exercise all executive functions at the council following major failings being identified following the child exploitation scandal in Rotherham.

Today’s news follows Javid announcing his intention to return powers for adult social care, the council’s partnership with the NHS, external partnerships, economic growth, town centre, grounds maintenance and audit on 9 February – a promise that has now been delivered by the government, as the council has become responsible for decision-making in these areas since 21 March.

It was also announced that commissioners will still retain some powers, including relating to child sexual exploitation such as for children’s social care and community safety.

The secretary of state described the news as a “major milestone” and praised the authority for making significant improvements to their practices.  

“Councillors will be responsible for decision-making in these seven areas,” Javid told the Commons. “The commissioners will continue to provide oversight on these areas as well as the set of functions returned last year and ensure that they are exercised in accordance with the statutory best value duty.”

This development comes after MPs launched an inquiry into scrutiny arrangements in councils as a result of the high-profile Rotherham scandal, as well as the Tower Hamlets election corruption.

Leader of Rotherham council, Cllr Chris Read, said: “Today’s announcement reflects the significant improvements which we have collectively worked hard to achieve across the council.

“As he leaves his time with the council, we thank Sir Derek Myers for his work in helping to turn the council around and I repeat my commitment to ensure the council further improves, so that it can better serve Rotherham residents.”

Sir Derek, the outgoing lead commissioner, added that commissioners had seen “sustained improvements” to services since the first tranche of powers were returned earlier this week.

“We have a stable and hardworking cabinet, an established senior management team and along with committed staff, elected members and partners, have worked together to make sure the council continues to demonstrate it is ready to resume more responsibility,” he concluded.

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