Nottingham City Council has set out how over the next three years it will address the financial and governance issues raised in a Government review, to strengthen the authority for the future.
A rapid non-statutory review was carried out last year on behalf of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, following a Public Interest Report into the council’s governance of Robin Hood Energy. The rapid review raised concerns around past financial management and governance and recommended that the council should produce a three-year recovery plan, setting out the actions needed to restore the financial viability of its capital programme and revenue budget and implement a more robust medium-term financial planning process.
The review team also said it was impressed with the determination of the council’s new leadership to stabilise the current situation and take the necessary decisions to bring about improvement.
The council has accepted all of the review’s recommendations and has produced the Recovery and Improvement Plan to take the authority forward to 2024. The Plan provides assurance to government that the council is responding positively to the review and is committed to making improvements at pace. The Plan also confirms that the council is committed to ensuring that it continues to deliver the quality statutory and day-to-day local services that help keep the city safe and clean, and that it will work in partnership with the communities it serves to build a prosperous city that offers residents the opportunity to realise their potential.
The Plan includes actions which will deliver:
• An affordable and sustainable medium-term financial strategy and balanced budget
• A clear plan for managing and reducing debt levels, including releasing capital receipts through increased property disposals
• A clear approach to the management of the council’s companies
• A refreshed policy framework through a revised Council Plan
• A simplified high level officer structure and improvements in the way the council manages performance
• A workforce and organisational development programme which will be developed in conjunction with the Local Government Association
• A revised protocol giving clarity on the distinct roles of elected members and officers
• A modernised constitution and decision-making process.
The Plan follows and complements action already undertaken by the council to address issues highlighted in the Public Interest Report on the council’s governance of Robin Hood Energy, and includes the establishment of an Improvement Board to be chaired by Sir Tony Redmond. Further action is also underway to find new ways to protect essential front line services which have been so important during the pandemic, while making hard choices about the sort of council that will be needed in the future, through service changes and reductions.
Nottingham City Council’s Chief Executive Mel Barrett said: “We recognise the seriousness of the financial, governance and operational challenges we face, and it is going to take a significant collective effort from all at the council to address them and reach a sustainable position. However uncomfortable these review findings are, we remain determined and confident in our organisation’s capacity and capability to change.”
Council Leader Cllr David Mellen said: “Nottingham City Council wants to operate in a way that best serves the people of the city. We accept the challenges received and will work with determination to bring about the improvement our citizens deserve. We welcome support and advice and will work alongside the Government, engaging our partners and citizens where appropriate.
“We will build on work we are already undertaking to deliver on behalf of the people of Nottingham a sustainable balanced budget, a refreshed policy framework and direction for the council, and transparent and efficient decision making.
“Despite these challenges, we remain ambitious for Nottingham and for all who live and work here. Our core mission is to deliver quality local services, ensure the city is safe and clean and support jobs and growth, so that local people can be proud of their city, and of a council that is there to serve them.”