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Local Government (Doncaster)

Volume 510: debated on Wednesday 2 June 2010

I am announcing today a package of intensive measures that I am proposing to put in place to turn around Doncaster metropolitan borough council after 15 years of poor governance and dysfunctional politics.

Following a corporate governance inspection of the council, the Audit Commission published their report on 19 April 2010 which concluded that the council is not properly run, is failing, and lacks the capacity to improve. The commission recommended statutory intervention by the Secretary of State.

The then Government accepted the report, announced that Government would intervene, and sought representations from the authority and its partners by 25 May on the form that intervention might take. It also established an emergency advisory board to provide, if urgent decisions were needed, leadership and clear support to the council’s acting chief executive.

I have considered carefully the Audit Commission’s report and recommendations, together with the representations received from the council, including the mayor, and its partners about the form of any intervention.

I am satisfied that there is a strong case for intervention at Doncaster metropolitan borough council, and I have issued today to that authority a draft of a direction that I intend to make under section 15 of the Local Government Act 1999 specifying the form of intervention to be put in place at Doncaster, together with a draft explanatory memorandum.

The intervention package that I am proposing has been developed working with the Local Government Association and others in local government. It consists of my giving directions on three matters: first, the appointment of a head of paid service who will provide officer leadership and recommend appointment of statutory officers; secondly, the appointment of three commissioners who will be responsible for other officer appointments and any other matter referred to them; and thirdly, the council’s co-operation with an intervention and recovery board comprising the commissioners and other experts to provide external support and challenge.

The authority now has until the 23 June to make any representations it wishes on the draft direction. Having regard to any representations I receive, I intend to take a final decision on the form of intervention by the end of June.

Copies of the draft direction and explanatory memorandum have been placed in the Library of the House.