Birmingham Council has been warned to ‘radically improve’ the way it is run and delivers services in an independent review published today.
The review, conducted by Sir Bob Kerslake, was commissioned following the ‘Trojan Horse’ school scandal earlier this year. It has concluded the council lacks a clear vision for the city and must make ‘sweeping changes’ into how the authority is run.
It also revealed that deep rooted problems are being ‘swept under the carpet’ rather than being tackled such as low skills or economic growth.
Sir Kerslake said: ‘Over several years the council has failed to resolve its financial issues and the poor performance of its children’s services or to respond to the large number of people in the city with low skills. Collectively, despite the thriving physical regeneration of the city centre, this has held the city back.’
Local government secretary, Eric Pickles, said he strongly backed the review and warned the council would face further intervention if it did not improve within a year.
‘For too long the council has been a dysfunctional organisation which has failed to get to grips with the problems its faces and the economic challenges of the future,’ he said.
‘It must stop looking to central government to bail it out and come up with innovative solutions itself. Now is not a time for the council to feel sorry for itself, but to start providing the leadership, skills and services its people need as the best authorities are doing across the country.’
The review recommends a change in the electoral cycle from 2017 to give residents the chance to vote for the whole council every four years, rather than the current system which splits local elections into returning a third of the authority every year.
Sir Kerslake is also calling for an independent improvement panel to be established to ensure the council delivers on the report’s recommendations.
In response, the council it was glad the review recognised Birmingham had the potential to be a regional economic powerhouse in the future, and has made ‘significant improvement’ over recent years.
A statement from leader of the council Sir Albert Bore and chief executive Mark Rogers said the council accepts ‘the broad thrust of all the recommendations in the report’ and it would be immediately implementing five of the recommendations.