Wednesday, March 22, 2017

News: Economic decisions return to Council

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Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed the return of seven additional powers to Rotherham Council - including those relating to economic growth, regeneration and the town centre.

Rothbiz reported in October that the authority was confident that it would regain its decision making powers over regeneration matters as councillors show "ambition and determination."

As part of a Government intervention package, commissioners were appointed in 2015 to provide leadership, taking over the roles of the cabinet that was deemed "wholly dysfunctional" following a Government review that came after a 2014 report into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham that described how vulnerable children had been repeatedly failed by the Council.

In February 2016, a year after commissioners were brought in, a third of decision making responsibilities were returned to the Council and now the Secretary of State has confirmed the return of further powers to Rotherham, seen as a "significant milestone" that brings the majority of services back under the Council's democratic control.

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The move will see decisions on economic growth - including attracting investment from the private sector, and town centre management – including economic regeneration through retail investment and heritage works, will rest with Cllr. Denise Lelliot, the cabinet member for jobs and the local economy. The decisions are currently made by Julie Kenny, supporting commissioner.

Upcoming key decision in these areas include disposing of Council properties, tendering for the Rotherham Construction Partnership, the lease for part of Herringthorpe Playing Field, acquiring buildings on Corporation Street and business rates relief.

Sir Derek Myers, lead commissioner at Rotherham Council (pictured, second right), said: "We have continued to see sustained improvements to services since the first tranche of powers were returned to the council last year. 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.

"Commissioners still have retention of some powers, including children's social care and community safety."

The Government-appointed commissioners have been given until March 2019 to improve and hand back all services.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said: "Handing back these powers increases democratic control and is a significant milestone for the Council, which has demonstrated steady progress in its improvement journey.

"With effect from 21 March, Councillors will be responsible for decision making in these seven areas. 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."

With a reduced role for the Commissioner team, it has also been confirmed that Sir Derek will step down from his role at the end of March and will be replaced by Mary Ney, the supporting commissioner that has led on the reshaping of the Council's licensing functions.

Rotherham Council website

Images: RMBC


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