Headlines: April 20th, 2010

The Local Government Association has said it will work with Doncaster Council to ensure local people get a better deal after a damning report from the Audit Commission. The Communities Secretary, John Denham, has said he will use his statutory powers to intervene in the running of the authority.

John Ransford, Chief Executive of the Local Government Association Group, said the Commission’s report was a ‘brutally frank assessment of the huge difficulties that have beset Doncaster for many years’. The commission said the council had a troubled history of poor governance and that the shadow of a corruption scandal, which saw 21 councillors convicted of fraud in 2001, still hung over the area.

It highlighted poor working relationships between the council, the mayor and the cabinet and said a lack of leadership shown by the mayor, the cabinet and some chief officers had led to failures to improve services. Council officers had not acted as a team and there was antagonism from councillors towards the mayor, whose behaviour had sometimes failed to meet required standards.

Mr. Ransford said the LGA group would work with the Commission, the government and the council. “The situation is not acceptable, things must improve and we will play our full part in helping this happen,” he said and added: “There are no quick fixes or easy solutions, but the LGA Group is determined to help set Doncaster on a course of improvement in the coming years.”

The group’s Deputy Chief Executive, Jo Miller, has been seconded to Doncaster and Rob Whiteman, the new chief executive of the IDeA, has been appointed as Chairman of an Emergency Advisory Board.