Secretary of State plans return of final powers to CouncilPublished Monday, 23rd July 2018
Rotherham Council leaders have welcomed the proposed return of the last remaining powers to come back under democratic control.
James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has today indicated he is “minded” to return the last remaining powers back to the Council, remove Commissioners, and require a final review to be held early next year.
This follows a health check by independent peers and the “Good” Ofsted report for children’s services earlier in the year. This could mean children’s social care would now come back under the Council’s democratic control.
Welcoming the news Council Leader Cllr Chris Read said: “Today’s announcement is a reflection of more than three years of hard work by lots of people – our staff, 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.
“The Council today is a very different organisation to the one I became leader of in 2015. It is more open to challenge, more focussed on priorities, more disciplined in delivery of services. Critically that means that the way we respond to the needs of our most vulnerable children and families has been transformed. It also means that whilst we are proud of the progress we’ve made, we will not lose sight of the challenges ahead and the continuing need to change and improve over the coming years.”
Chief Executive Sharon Kemp added: “We welcome the Secretary of State’s position that he is minded to return all powers back to the Council. “This reflects the improvement journey we have been on in the last three years which has seen vast changes here at the Council. We will continue to keep on improving and will be happy to take part in the final review.”
The Council was placed under the control of five Government appointed Commissioners in 2015, which later reduced down to three, after a number of reports highlighted serious failings across the authority in the aftermath of its child sexual exploitation scandal.
Over the past two years the Government has returned powers to the Council in all other areas, with children’s service remaining the last power still under Commissioner over sight.
Lead Commissioner Mary Ney added: “Commissioners have seen significant improvements in Rotherham Council due to the hard work and commitment of councillors and staff. We are confident that the leadership of the Council is strong and that Rotherham Council will continue to improve.”
The announcement by the Communities Secretary is now open to local views. He will consider any representations before making a final decision on whether to return these functions.
All representations should be sent by email to Griffith_Turnock@communities.gsi.gov.uk, copied to Alex.Powell@communities.gsi.gov.uk, or in hard copy to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, 2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF marked for the attention of Rebecca Griffith/Suzanne Turnock, so as to be received on or before 5pm, Monday 20 August 2018.