Government steps in to help run troubled council

The Government is to intervene in the running of troubled Sandwell Council after seeing “considerable evidence of significant and systematic failure”.

Minister for Levelling Up Kemi Badenoch announced in Parliament commissioners would come to Sandwell for two years.

Labour-run Sandwell Council has had six different leaders in as many years and has seen a number of misconduct allegations made against councillors.

Under the plans, which follow a recent audit by Grant Thornton, two commissioners will be appointed to “assist the local authority in performing its duties… properly and thoroughly”.

The council said it was “disappointed” with the announcement.

The commissioners will also look to appoint a permanent chief executive officer within 18 months.

Badenoch said Sandwell Council had “struggled for many years” to resolve a number of issues which had led to “a breakdown in trust, respect and confidence”.

She said while “green shoots” of progress had been identified, it was the government’s view that “the risk of progress stalling or slowing is significant”.

“Whilst the Secretary of State is fully supportive of the actions of the interim chief executive and encouraged by the progress that has been made since his appointment in August 2021, the proposed intervention is both necessary and expedient to secure compliance with the best value duty.”