Minister ‘minded’ to intervene at Sandwell Council

By Laura Sharman | 19 January 2022

The Government is considering sending in commissions into Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council due to its failure to ‘resolve a variety of governance issues.’

Minister for equalities and levelling up communities, Kemi Badenoch, said the council has faced allegations of ‘serious misconduct’ by both members and officers.

She highlighted the fact the council has had six different leaders in six years and three chief executives over the past three years, warning this has led to a ‘breakdown in trust, respect and confidence’.

An audit report last year found a ‘troubling picture of mismanagement’ and an ineffective approach to budget monitoring and budget setting.

The Government is now considering sending in commissioners to oversee its governance and scrutiny of strategic decision making for two years.

In a statement Ms Badenoch said: ‘I recognise that it is unprecedented to propose an intervention without a best value inspection or a government review. However, I have considered this report carefully and the evidence contained within it satisfies me that there is no need for an additional Best Value Inspection. Instead, I believe what is needed now is support for a council at the beginning of a fragile journey of recovery.

’Expressed in formal terms, the secretary of state is satisfied that Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council is failing to comply with its best value duty and he is considering exercising his powers of intervention to secure compliance with that duty.’

The Government has invited representations from the council on the report and the proposals by 11 February.

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