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Officer workload cut under new regime...
Officer workload cut under new regime

By Nick Golding

The new leader of Britain's worst council has given himself three years to get it back on track - and admits he faces a struggle.

Ken Branson, who deposed Colin Inglis as leader of Kingston upon Hull City Council in an internal Labour coup last month, told LGC: 'I've set myself a three-year target - after that it's someone else's job.'

Mr Branson said Hull's improvement drive, programme for change, had placed huge burdens on senior officers, and their workload should be cut within 'six to eight weeks'.

'We need to re-evaluate the way we implement our programme for change to ease the workload, especially on the senior and upper-tier officers so they have the time to do their day jobs as well as implement change,' he said.

Admitting it was unlikely he could win Hull an 'excellent' comprehensive performance analysis rating, he added: 'What I want to hand over is a going concern, which may have hiccups but nothing my successor cannot cope with.'

Mr Branson insisted Hull - the only non-district council to gain a 'poor' CPA rating - was 'not as bad as has been painted', but he admitted some people 'come up and say they think it's crap'.

He pledged to work with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, which oversees the council's administration.

Mr Branson said he was optimistic an improvement would be noted in the Audit Commission's progress assessment report, in one year's time.

'Hopefully, we'll get the clean bill of health we'd dearly love, but it may well be they will say we are making good progress,' he said.

He said key policies would stay the same and housing and public health would be priorities.

Branson on Inglis

'My predecessor was perhaps one of the most capable people that I've ever met on an administrative and policy perspective.

'But perhaps my predecessor lacked that authority to relate personally across the board with the business community and the voluntary sector etcetera.

'There's been a sense that, as the new leader of the council, I'm much more approachable.'

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