Thursday, September 20, 2018

News: Commissioners to be removed from Rotherham Council

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The Government has confirmed that it is concluding its intervention in Rotherham Council and returning all powers to the authority.

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 the majority of services came back under the Council's democratic control last year.

The Council will have full democratic control of all its services when the decision to return powers comes into force from next Monday. This is on condition that the Council commissions an independent progress review of delivery of services before the directions expire on March 31 2019.

Lead commissioner Mary Ney said: "The Commissioners are pleased that the continuous hard work of members, officers and partners in Rotherham has resulted in sufficient improvement for democratic decision-making to be restored to the Council.

"Whilst the Council still faces challenges we have confidence that the leadership of the Council is strong and will work hard to address these. We would like to thank the Council and all of the members and staff we have worked with for their efforts and commitment and we wish the Council, its partners and Rotherham well for the future."

Sir Derek Myers was the initial lead commissioner with commissioner Stella Manzie CBE installed in a managing director role before a new chief exec, Sharon Kemp, began in post in 2016. Julie Kenny CBE DL was brought in as a supporting commissioner. Commissioner Malcolm Newsam left in May 2016 and was replaced by Patricia Bradwell.

The estimated £1m costs of the intervention has been borne by the authority. The actual commissioner days used was 448 days plus a full time managing director commissioner in 2015/16, 248 days in 2016/17 and 114 days in 2017/18 and a final estimated 40 days to the end of the intervention.

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Cllr. Chris Read, leader of Rotherham Council said that the early departure of Commissioners was "testimony to the hard work of many people over the last few years."

He added: "The announcement comes on the back of our "Good" Ofsted report for children’s services earlier in the year. That our Children's Services have been transformed has been a critical indicator of the changes that we have made. But it has only been one part of challenging, re-examining, and improving the way we work and the culture of the Council.

"We could not be where we are today if it wasn't for the dedication of lots of people – our staff, partner agencies, Commissioners and councillors – who were all united in determination that the people of Rotherham should be better served than they had been in the past. My thanks go to all those people today.

"I'm delighted with the progress that we have made. Whilst the work is never complete and we continue to face significant challenges I hope that residents will be able to take assurance that we are firmly on the right track."

Sharon Kemp, chief executive at Rotherham Council added: "Over the past four years there have been significant changes here at the Council, including changes across the leadership.

"Today's announcement is pleasing however we continue to focus on constantly improving outcomes for all our residents and stakeholders."

In writing to the Government, lead commissioner Mary Ney said the most critical issue for the authority was its budget with growing demand in adults and children's social care leading to significant overspends, as well as bearing additional costs arising from the NCA Operation Stovewood investigations.

RMBC website

Images: RMBC

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