Mayor Joanne Anderson and Chief Executive Tony Reeves have issued a joint response
THE Commissioners appointed to Liverpool City Council, following the Best Value Inspection, have published their first report, giving initial observations about the leadership team and their work.
“Many changes have taken place at the council since the Best Value report and we acknowledge there is still a lot do.
The Commissioners team – led by Mike Cunningham - with colleagues Joanna Killian, Neil Gibson and Deborah McLaughlin have concluded that the council is “at the beginning of a long improvement journey and has a great deal to do in the next three years”.
The Commissioners - who started work on June 10 2021 - have also observed that the political and managerial leadership of Liverpool “clearly desire change at pace”.
This first report has been published after being submitted to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and covers the first three months of the inspection.
The Commissioners say despite evidence of “change”, there is a “somewhat frenetic rather than purposeful and targeted approach” and a “lack of prioritisation and planning”.
The Commissioners have also noted that there is “a need to build the competency, capacity, efficiency and effectiveness of core corporate and support services including Governance, Finance, Legal and IT”.
Lead Inspector Mike Cunningham said, “There are many hard working, committed staff within Liverpool City Council and we have observed a clear desire to improve across the Council.
“Indeed, nobody we have met during our time here so far has said the council does not need to improve.
“The entire organisation needs to focus on getting its core work right and build from there.
“In particular, we have identified that best value has not been achieved in a number of existing property transactions, and the regeneration and property management teams need to develop commercial awareness.
“In Highways, it will take at least another 12-18 months to put improvements in place, and five years to become a top performer.
“The council needs to invest in additional capacity and capability and become a learning organisation that embraces support, development and challenge.
“A great deal of work is under way, and improvements are already being made, but there is no doubt that this is going to be a long road.”
Mayor Joanne Anderson and the city’s Chief Executive Tony Reeves have issued a joint statement in response to the report’s publication.
“A huge amount of work is underway to develop the Council Plan and the Strategic Improvement Plan which will go a long way to addressing many of the concerns raised both within the ‘Best Value’ report and this first report from the Commissioners.
“Many changes have taken place at the council since the‘Best Value’ report and we acknowledge that there is still a lot do. This is a complex journey and the council needs to find the right balance between implementing improvements and building capacity, whilst managing a very difficult budget.
“The well-publicised issues within the Highways and Regeneration teams are being tackled head on. These teams both have a new head of service to instigate the necessary changes to drive up standards, including a new business plan for the Highways department.
“Where the council has failed in the past to address a culture of bullying and intimidation, that is now being tackled through an intensive programme to make the workplace more inclusive and caring. We have clear processes for staff to raise concerns and these are acted on and dealt with in a consistent way. These behaviours have no place in our organisation.
“The council has a huge number of dedicated, professional and talented staff who care deeply about the service they provide and it is our job to ensure they have the right support to deliver best value.
“Training programmes are being delivered to support staff and councillors, a new customer feedback process is being implemented and a new process of consultation and engagement has been launched.
“A restructure of the senior management team is underway, with key posts such as the Monitoring Officer and Chief Operations Officer being filled.
“The scrutiny process has been strengthened with independent professionals being appointed to the Audit and the Standards and Ethics Committee.
"Work is underway to meet all of the Directions which the Secretary of State placed on the council including a review of the constitution and scrutiny arrangements of the council and the development of a submission to the Boundary Commission on a revised pattern of wards for the city.
“Our commitment to working with the Commissioners, to supporting our staff, and to delivering an improved service for tax payers is unwavering.
“We care immensely for our city and its people and we are determined to provide the best opportunities for all.”
Liverpool Council's full response is at Liverpool Express. The full Government report can be read online at the Government website. The next report will be issued in six months, and will provide findings about wider council services.
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