Council Culture Improving, But Room Remains For Improvement

January 31, 2019 12:25 PM

The Local Government Association has done a follow-up visit to Derby after the Corporate Peer Challenge they carried out on Derby City Council in 2017. They have found significant improvements since the council changed political control in May 2018

The 2017 report highlighted deep concerns about accountability, governance and political culture. Particular mention was made of poor conduct by some councillors. The LGA state, "The issue was very much about a small number of individual councillors who were in key positions and who had been behaving in ways which appeared to be well adrift from the standards expected." The LGA made it clear that "the vast majority of concern was expressed about a small number of members of one political Group." The LGA highlighted that this political Group had failed "to properly hold those individuals to account and to use Group and Party processes to act against poor behaviour."

Now the LGA has produced a follow up letter. It states that progress has been made since May 2018 when the political leadership of the council changed. The fact that there has been a number of new senior or key officers joining the council has also helped.

"The LGA has put into writing what the citizens of Derby have know for a long time," said Lib Dem campaigner Ajit Atwal. "Labour brought the City Council to its knees and made the working atmosphere toxic for staff.

"I'm not surprised that the LGA found that some staff were really worried that these improvements might be lost if control of the council changed again following the May 2019 elections.

"The real problem is that the Council Leader has a lot of power, and we've seen that this can be abused. Too much power is concentrated into one pair of hands. This is why we as Lib Dems want to see a change in the way the political side of the council is run. We need a system that shares power widely among councillors, rather than letting one person, good or bad, act like a dictator. The cross-party committee system which last May we and the Conservatives both signed up to implement, will act as a safeguard against any future attempts at abuse of power."