Secretary of State plans return of more powers to RotherhamPublished Tuesday, 18th July 2017
Rotherham Council has welcomed the proposed return of more powers by the Government, a move which would bring all functions aside from children's social care back under Council democratic control.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed he is minded to return powers for five of the last six services which currently sit with Commissioners: community safety; waste management; performance management; asset management; and HR.
Decision-making powers for children’s services will remain with the Government-appointed Commissioners while improvements continue, and they will still have oversight of all services which have already returned.
Under the latest proposals, Commissioners will also retain enhanced powers over domestic abuse services, as are in place for adult social care, meaning Cabinet Members must act on any formal advice of Commissioners in these areas, while improvements progress.
The announcement, which is now open to local views, follows the submission of evidence from Lead Commissioner Mary Ney.
Commissioner Ney said: “We have seen sustained progress across the Council, and I and my fellow Commissioners are confident that significant improvements have been made in many more of the Council’s core services.
“We have recommended to Government that Rotherham councillors are in a strong position to take responsibility and accountability for five of the six services which currently reside with Commissioners, and that the organisation is fit to support them in doing so for local people.
“In terms of children’s services, much has been achieved and robust improvements have been made, but there is still more to do to make sure the remaining services are fit for purpose and for that reason Commissioners will retain powers in this area at present.”
Leader of the Council, Cllr Chris Read added: "This is the most significant indication so far from Government that the Council is firmly on the right track. It is testament to the hard work of many staff and councillors over the last two and a half years and should give residents confidence in the steps we’ve taken over that time.”
“There is still more to do, there is no complacency, and we will continue to focus our improvements also around Children’s Services in order to return the Council fully to democratic decision making.”
The Communities Secretary will consider any representations from the Council before making a final decision on whether to return these functions. Representations can be made up to 26 July 2017 by contacting Debjani Ghosh copied to Alex Powell.
The Government-appointed Commissioners have been given until March 2019 to improve and hand back all services.