The Government has announced that Commissioners are to be appointed for Nottingham City Council.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has confirmed that the Secretary of State, after considering representations and all other developments since his ‘minded to’ proposals, has decided to appoint Commissioners for the council.
The Lead Commissioner for Nottingham will be Tony McArdle OBE who was previously Lead Commissioner at the former Northamptonshire County Council and is currently Chair of the London Borough of Croydon Improvement and Assurance Panel. He will be supported by Margaret Lee as Commissioner for Finance, with the intention that a Commissioner for transformation will be nominated in due course.
The Commissioners have been granted extensive powers and will oversee the full range of the council’s improvement activities, including strategies to secure the medium and long term financial sustainability of the council and plans to transform front line services.
The appointment of Commissioners replaces the Improvement and Assurance Board with immediate effect, although the Commissioners will be able to draw on the input of Sir Tony Redmond and former IAB members as they see fit.
Major pressures affecting local government nationally, including the cost of increased demand for children’s and adults’ social care and rising homelessness presentations, have led to a £23 million overspend in 2023/24 and the need to request Exceptional Financial Support from government in the form of capitalisation which allows the council to use capital receipts from asset sales to meet ongoing revenue costs as a short term measure.
In addition, an extensive budget savings package which will have a significant impact on local services is due to be decided on by councillors at a meeting of the City Council scheduled for 4 March 2024.
In response to the Government appointments, Councillor David Mellen, Leader of the Council, said: “Our preferred option was to continue to work with the Improvement and Assurance Board which has been overseeing improvements at the council since 2021.
“We feel that significant progress was being made across the council. However, we are committed to working constructively and collaboratively with the Commissioners to tackle Nottingham’s current challenges.”
Mel Barrett, the council’s Chief Executive, said: “The council is committed to working in collaboration with the Commissioners to continue our improvement journey at pace, reshaping the organisation to put the authority on a stable financial footing, while delivering essential services for Nottingham residents within the resources that we have.
“Our wider transformation work is already well under way and the expert input and challenge from the Commissioners will be invaluable to our officers and councillors as they look to accelerate that process further.”