Government steps in to tackle failures at Labour run council

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Commissioners have been appointed to implement positive and far-reaching changes at Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council today (22 March 2022).

The move comes after an external review revealed a “deeply troubling picture of mismanagement and of ineffective scrutiny and accountability arrangements” at the Labour run council.

It is only the fourth time in the last six years such action has been taken at a local authority and comes in the wake of a series of scandals in Sandwell, West Midlands.

The council has had six leaders in the last six years, and three chief executives in the last three years, due to a bitter war between factions of the ruling Labour Party.

Two Commissioners with a proven record of leadership, transformation and strong governance have now been appointed to work collaboratively with the council to deliver the needed improvements.

The Commissioners will take over functions associated with the governance and scrutiny of strategic decision-making by the Council, including those relating to the appointment and dismissal of statutory officers.

Sandwell councillors have welcomed working with the appointed commissioners to support their journey of improvement.

Local Government Minister Kemi Badenoch MP said:

Given the clear evidence of the failings at Sandwell Council, I have decided that it is necessary for government to intervene.

I am confident that, working collaboratively with these commissioners, the council will build on their recent progress to make the necessary improvements and rebuild trust with the community they serve.

Read the written ministerial statement

The Commissioners will be led by Kim Bromley-Derry CBE DL, the current interim Chief Executive Officer who has been leading the council since August 2021. Kim also worked as the Chief Executive of the London Borough of Newham for 8 years. He will be supported by Assistant Commissioner Jim Taylor, former Chief Executive of Salford City Council prior to his retirement in 2021.

Managing Director Commissioner Kim Bromley-Derry CBE DL said:

I am looking forward to continuing my work with Sandwell Council and building on the progress of recent months to better serve the people of Sandwell.

Kim Bromley-Derry CBE DL (Managing Director Commissioner) has more than 35 years of public sector experience, including 8 years as Chief Executive of the London Borough of Newham. He was also Director of Children’s Services at both the London Borough of Newham and South Tyneside Council and a Children’s Services Director at Leicester City Council. Kim was appointed Interim Chief Executive of Sandwell Council in August 2021 after being temporarily released from his role as Group Director for strategic partnerships at McLaren Construction Group. Kim has also been President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services and chaired the Government’s Libraries Taskforce.

Jim Taylor (Assistant Commissioner) served for 6 years as Chief Executive of Salford City Council prior to his retirement in 2021. He also fulfilled the role of Interim Chief Executive of Trafford Borough Council simultaneously from July 2018 to February 2019. Prior to this Jim was the Chief Executive of Rochdale Council having also served as Director for Children’s Services at Tameside MBC. In June 2021 Jim was appointed by the Secretary of State to undertake an external assurance review of governance at Slough Borough Council.

The Commissioners will provide their first report within the next 3 months. Further reports will be provided every 6 months, or as agreed with the Commissioners.

Commissioners will work collaboratively with Emma Taylor, Chief Executive of Sandwell Children’s Trust and Mark Gurrey, the Department for Education’s children’s services adviser and Chair of the Council’s improvement board for children’s services. This will ensure that the improvements overseen to date through the Department for Education’s statutory intervention continue to be made.

A statement on Sandwell Council’s Twitter page this afternoon reads: “We will work very closely with the Government and our partners to continue to progress and maintain our focus on delivering high-quality services our residents can rely on.”

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