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Commissioner's bulletin 3 June 2016

sir derek myers
Lead Commissioner Sir Derek Myers

I write to offer a further update on the work of the Commissioners’ team in Rotherham.

Election results

On 5 May all out elections were held for the 21 wards of three Members each in Rotherham. This was a requirement within the original Directions for the Government intervention which commenced in February 2015. The all-out elections replaced the ‘elections by thirds’ whereby one third of Councillors were re-elected each year.

Overall – on a 33 percent turnout – 48 Labour Councillors were elected; 14 UKIP Councillors and one independent. Two sitting independents and one Conservative Councillor lost their seats. UKIP were slightly stronger (up from 12). Labour, in effect, regained a seat from one of the independents.

Over 50 percent of Councillors are new - either elected in May 2015 or May 2016.

The Leader, Cllr Read and Deputy Leader, Cllr Watson and 4 out of 6 ‘Cabinet Members’ were re-elected and are serving on. Two Cabinet Members are new. The line-up is now:

  • Cllr Chris Read, Leader
  • Cllr Gordon Watson, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services
  • Cllr David Roche, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health
  • Cllr Denise Lelliott, Cabinet Member for Jobs and the Local Economy
  • Cllr Emma Hoddinott, Cabinet Member for Waste, Roads and Community Safety
  • Cllr Taiba Yasseen, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Cultural Services
  • Cllr Dominic Beck, Cabinet Member for Housing
  • Cllr Saghir Alam, Cabinet Member for Corporate Services

UKIP are due to elect a new Leader after Cllr Vines lost his seat.

Commissioner team change

Within the Commissioner team, Councillor Patricia Bradwell has replaced Malcolm Newsam as Children’s Commissioner. Mr Newsam had contributed much from his experience as a former Director for Children's Services and experienced change consultant. I recommended that with his departure, DfE should appoint a replacement to help focus on the political leadership and scrutiny of Children’s Services, and Councillor Bradwell joins with great experience from Lincolnshire where she is Deputy Leader and has Cabinet responsibility for both Children’s Services and Adult Social Care.

Update to Government

On 11 May I reported again to the Secretaries of State at DCLG and DfE on progress. Commissioners are required to report every three months and in particular to advise as to whether any function can be returned to the Council.

In this letter we discussed progress on the Council’s licensing function and we will continue to discuss with the Secretary of State and his civil servants what further progress is necessary.

Council management team now complete

The Council’s new management team is complete, with the appointment of Anne Marie Lubanski as Strategic Director for Adult Care and Housing. Anne Marie joins us from North Yorkshire – a much larger authority with a good track record and will start in August 2016.

Management vacancies at a senior level continue to arise and recently the Head of HR and Director of Housing have both announced they are moving on.

Decision-making model settled

Part of the Intervention was a requirement to review the Council’s constitutional arrangements. This took the form of a panel independently chaired by Professor Tony Crook of Sheffield University, looking at Mayoral models; an alternative of returning to a committee system or retaining the current Cabinet and Scrutiny model. The panel recommended on a majority vote to retain the Leader and Cabinet model but with more cross party sharing out of vice chair roles in Scrutiny; better information sharing and more pre decision Scrutiny.

Now the new Administration is known the Council is completing its formal documentation for this year with a new Corporate Plan and refreshed Improvement Plan. These will be formally agreed by Council in July.

Sustaining a healthy culture

Many books are written about organisational culture and how staff and Councillors behave is clearly important. Now that the principal elected and paid leaders are in place in Rotherham it is important to spend a bit of time and effort establishing these new healthy group norms. The Council is grateful to the LGA for continuing assistance.

Many will join me in regretting that local police have been given notice of another ‘march’ organised by people from outside Rotherham on 4 June. These disturbances disrupt local life and can cause a threat to public order. Commissioners and the Council are urging the police to use appropriate powers to minimise these risks.

Sir Derek Myers, Lead Commissioner

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