William Eichler 09 February 2017

Bristol mayor vows to get a grip on city’s finances

Bristol’s mayor has vowed to get the city’s finances under control after a report criticised the council for a ‘collective failure of leadership’ in achieving past savings.

The report, written by former Audit Commission chief executive Steve Bundred, found the city’s financial problems were the result of Whitehall’s austerity measures, legislative changes and increasing demand on services.

However, it also noted there had been a collective failure of leadership in achieving past savings and accepting challenging cuts early enough. It said there had been an unwillingness to accept ‘bad news’ and weaknesses in skills, reporting and governance.

Despite these criticisms, the study acknowledged the council had taken steps recently to make improvements, with regular and stronger financial reporting, more involvement of elected members and changes in senior management.

For this reason, it said the public could be confident in the council’s proposed budget plans for 2017/18.

‘I inherited a deeply troubling financial challenge and promised this independent report to help us understand the causes and how we could put things right,’ said Mayor Rees.

‘We are undoubtedly making fast and strong progress already. We know where there are issues and are already putting many of the fixes in place.’

‘This report proves that our current approach to making savings, whilst very difficult, is absolutely necessary and that we have improved political oversight of our work,’ he added.

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