Gove to appoint commissioners to run crisis-hit council

Michael Gove is expected to announce the appointment of commissioners to take over the day-to-day running of Birmingham City Council this week.

The Times has reported that the secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities could make the announcement, which would place the council into special measures, as early as tomorrow.

Commissioners will oversee the council’s financial management, whilst making recommendations to Gove on what assets should be sold.

Council-owned buildings include the Central Library, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Aston Hall and Sarehole Mill, thought to be the inspiration for a mill in Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings. Its stake in Birmingham Airport could also be sold off.

A Section 114 notice was issued on September 5, after a series of financial mismanagement including an £80m overspend on a malfunctioning IT system, and a £760m equal pay liability which unofficially halted all non-essential spending. A total of £1.1bn had already been paid over the last decade in relation to the settlement of equal pay claims.

Now, no new expenditure is allowed for the largest authority in Europe, and only statutory services including safeguarding people will be permitted. Existing contracts and plans will however be honoured.

Council leaders are set to meet on September 5, to outline a recovery plan.

Birmingham City Council has been contacted for comment with no immediate response.

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