Rotherham not yet ready for full powers, says Myers

12 Feb 16

Sir Derek Myers, who is leading the intervention at Rotherham council, has said further progress is required before full powers are restored, despite responsibility for some services being returned.

Speaking after powers for services including education, public health and housing were given back to councillors, Myers said a large number of improvements have been made to services over the past year.

Last month, Myers recommended to the local government secretary that services in a number of areas, including some of the council’s financial functions, be returned to local control.

Following the transfer yesterday, Myers, former chief executive of Hammersmith & Fulham and the Kensington & Chelsea London boroughs, said the significance of improvements made should not be underestimated.

“Before we hand back further powers, we need to be absolutely certain that councillors are fully prepared, services are stable, and that the council has the public’s confidence,” he added.

“Whist the pace of improvement has been good, there is much more to do in some areas. At this time we don’t propose to hand back those services which we know still need improvement, including children’s social care.”
Further progress is both “necessary and expected”, he added, and the transfer of functions showed a good start has been made.

Four commissioners were appointed to run the council by then local government secretary Eric Pickles after a review criticised the council’s dysfunctional governance, which was found to have contributed significantly to the child sexual exploitation in the authority area.

Pickles’ successor Greg Clark said the failings at Rotherham council were a shocking dereliction of care that should never be repeated.

“The improvements that have been made mean it is now appropriate for councillors to take back control over some functions – a step towards a stronger future for Rotherham council and the community it serves,” he stated.

“But let me be clear – there are still significant challenges that must be overcome before local people can have confidence in their council once again.”

The full list of services to be returned to council control, as set out by the Department for Communities and Local Government, is:

  • education and schools; education for 14 to 19 years in all settings; school admissions and appeal system; youth services
  • public health
  • leisure services; events in parks and green spaces
  • customer and cultural services, libraries, arts, customer services and welfare programmes
  • housing
  • planning and transportation policy; highways maintenance
  • the council’s area assembly system and neighbourhood working; responsibilities under the Equalities Act
  • building regulation, drainage, car parking; business regulation and enforcement (not including licensing); emergency planning
  • financial services, including revenues and benefits (not including audit), ICT; legal and democratic services; corporate communications; corporate policy; procurement
  • policy arising from Sheffield City Region

Did you enjoy this article?