SCANDAL-hit Rotherham Borough Council will have more powers returned on a “phased” basis — and is on track to get all its powers back by 2019.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has outlined proposals for a phase return of powers to the council, including responsibility for economic growth, town centre management and the maintenance of local parks and highways.
Mr Javid said he also intended to hand back adult social care powers but the Government-imposed commissioners would retain oversight and the authority to veto decisions given reforms are still going on.
The commissioners would be free to step in if they have concerns about value for money or the safety of vulnerable residents.
They will remain in place during phased return of powers and maintain responsibility for some areas such as children’s services.
Mr Javid said: “With the support of Sir Derek Myers and his team, Rotherham Borough Council has been making steady progress to restore local confidence and deliver the services local people rightly expect.
“Sir Derek’s latest report makes clear that locally-elected councillors have demonstrated their ability to take on greater powers,
“So while I am minded to return these powers to Rotherham, commissioners will stay in place and ensure this transition happens smoothly.”
The commissioners were appointed in February 2015 — after the publication of the damning Casey Report, which called council’s management “not fit for purpose” — to take over all executive functions.
Lead commissioner Sir Derek Myers and his team have recommended in their latest report that additional powers are returned to the council, including:
- Economic growth, including attracting investment from the private sector.
- Town Centre management, including economic regeneration through retail investment and heritage works.
- External Partnerships, including relationships with the Rotherham health and wellbeing board and the Children and Young People’s Partnership.
- Grounds maintenance and street cleansing, including maintenance of local parks, highway verges and parish council land.
- Adult social care and the council’s partnership with the NHS.
The commissioners have the option to offer local councillors advice where needed on cabinet decisions in all these areas.