Government keeps council in spotlight

NEWS: News.
NEWS: News.

DONCASTER Council is set to remain under Government control – after chiefs asked for intervention to continue.

The Government took over in 2010, shortly after an Audit Commission report said the council was ‘failing’.

Central control was set to end in July but now lead commissioner Rob Sykes has asked for the monitoring process to be extended.

In his letter to the secretary of state Eric Pickles, Mr Sykes said ‘some form of intervention will be required for at least another year and possibly longer’.

Mr Sykes said the council had made ‘clear improvements in some key areas’ but he said that more time was still needed ‘to address the specific issue of children’s services’.

He also claimed that, because of the mayoral election in May, continuing the intervention ‘will provide the time to digest the election results and assess the strengths and weaknesses of the new regime, whatever it might be’.

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said ministers were considering the next step.

The report, which led to intervention, said the people of Doncaster were ‘not well served’ by the council.

It said political rivalries were central to blocking improvements.

In March 2009, the Government ordered a takeover of children’s services after the deaths of seven children through abuse or neglect.

Chief executive Jo Miller said: “The Recovery Board has recommended that some form of intervention will be required for at least another year and possibly longer to address the issues in Children’s Services and see us through the Mayoral election in May and the potential upheaval that can bring.

“A slightly longer period of intervention should be viewed as an opportunity for us to continue to stabilise and drive forward improvements for local people.”