Friday, March 27, 2015

News: Kenny outlines role as commissioner at Rotherham Council

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Julie A Kenny CBE DL, chair and chief executive of growing Rotherham business, Pyronix Limited, has outlined her role as a supporting commissioner at troubled Rotherham Council and called on the local business community to play its part in the fresh start for the borough.

After a number of reports highlighted serious failings across the authority, an intervention package was announced by Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, and saw commissioners appointed who will provide new leadership and take on all executive functions of the authority.

An unprecedented step, the five commissioners have been appointed for a period of up to four years and could be in charge of the Council until March 2019. But speaking at a recent meeting of the Rotherham United Business Club, Julie Kenny explained: "We want to hand back powers very quickly. If it takes us four years, we'll see that as a failure. We have new faces, new councillors, that need our help and there are a lot of good council staff that come to work to make a difference. I think a lot of them have been stopped from doing that in the past."

As one of two supporting commissioners, Kenny has been given the lead on growing the local economy, ensuring the council is working with others to improve jobs and housing opportunities. She will also be overseeing the council's relationships with partners, and the voluntary and community sector.

Working closely with Cllr. Denise Lelliott, the role will involve reviewing the regeneration function of the council, the partnership arrangements and the role of the Economy Board, and the input into the Sheffield City Region frameworks.

Focus will also be placed on the skills agenda, with an emphasis on young people in the borough, and the emerging Growth Plan and Local Plan.

Supporting the town centre and the utilisation of £30m of funding for housing will also continue to be important to the council, as will ensuring areas across the whole authority support the local economy, for example by reviewing council contracts.As a former president of the Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber, Kenny took the opportunity to start the dialogue with businesses and find out what it is that they need in order to prosper. The role includes strengthening the voice and influence of the local business community. She also highlighted the impact that the private sector can have on young people through apprenticeships, internships, site visits, careers talks and engagement with schools.

Kenny said: "We can't be successful without partners. RMBC wants to start again, with a fresh break, but it has to be in partnership. We are going to do it with businesses, both current businesses and new businesses locating here."

The major shareholder of Pyronix, an award-winning manufacturer with an extensive range of electronic security equipment for intruder alarms, also praised the work of this website for focusing on the positivity in Rotherham and called on every business to shout about what they do.

"I'm proud to be from Rotherham and proud to employ Rotherham staff - some of the best in the world, she added. "With a fresh start, we've got a chance to rebuild that pride."

From April 1, Kenny, who had a similar commissioner role at neighbouring Doncaster Council, has been asked to set aside 80 days in the first year to work at the authority who are required to review and report to the Secretary of State every three months on any functions that it considers suitably improved. This is expected to result in a phased roll back of functions over the duration of the intervention.

Concluding her talk at the New York Stadium, Julie said: "The only way we are going to do this is to do it together and try different things. We can't leave decision making in one or two hands - it has to be done collectively with organisations and businesses."

Regular Rotherham United Business Club events give local businesses the opportunity to support each other and Rotherham United and cement the club's place within the business community. The club became patrons of the Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber of Commerce to enhance its status with businesses in the town.

RMBC website

Images: RMBC

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