Council leader to update secretary of state on improvement progress

Published: Tuesday, 22nd October 2019

City Council leader Ian Ward will send a letter to the secretary of state updating him on progress made on the council’s ongoing improvement journey, following approval by cabinet.

The model endorsed by central government has now formally launched through the creation of the Strategic Programme Board with oversight of the council’s priority areas. Five specialist non-executive directors (NEAs) have begun work focusing on specific areas alongside the Council Management Team.

A report is due before the city council’s cabinet on 29 October and will also include a letter from the NEAs to the secretary of state.

Cllr Ward said: “The non-executive advisors appointed earlier in the year are settled in and their presence is already bearing fruit in their respective areas.

“This is very much about having a critical friend for each of the council’s priority areas, with the NEAs using the knowledge and experience they have acquired through their areas of work and networks they have built up.

“As required and expected they have injected a real sense of urgency into delivering the commitments made in the Council Plan and refreshed Constitution.

“I’ve always said that improvement never stops and with this model we are taking a fresh look at the way we improve, owning it ourselves and ensuring it is continuous and sustainable. This is what the citizens of Birmingham need and deserve.

“It’s early days, but I feel we’re making good progress with the non-executive advisors – and they agree – by leveraging their combined knowledge, networks and experience to provide us with a fresh challenge and perspective on our service plans and targets.

“We’ve rightfully set ambitious goals for ourselves which I’m confident we’ll achieve with the support, advice and guidance offered by the advisers.

“I’m grateful for the observations from all of them. They are all doing great work and I look forward to continuing to work with them.”

  • Sean Hanson has been doing great work with the waste management team to implement the recommendations of the independent service review, as well as likely recommendations from the WMCA and Defra
  • Rob Whiteman has been focusing on ensuring there is an integrated approach to budget management and delivery, adding assurance and drive to savings delivery and transformation
  • Max Caller has been challenging officers to be more robust and pragmatic about issues faced and support needed.
  • Javed Khan’s initial inputs have been helpful and an emerging plan will add some momentum to the improvement work ongoing. He has a particular focus on SEND and early intervention, and preparation for adulthood
  • Donna Hall’s priority, following the former chief executive’s resignation, has been to help guide us through the transition period. Her analysis around how we embed culture change has been invaluable in moving our work forward in this area

Referring to the new improvement model as ‘ground-breaking’, the NEAs’ update said: “The council has appointed us as individuals, each with a significant track record in local government and its services as a whole and expertise in our topic areas. We are here to help them improve the pace of improvement, working inside and alongside the organisation.

“It is too early to form a judgement as to the success of the model but our initial response is to welcome and appreciate the openness in which the council has received us and the willingness to take on board the challenges and points that have been put to them. What is crucial now is how and at what pace the council responds to those challenges.”



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