Doncaster’s Corporate Governance Inspection has been described by the Audit Commission as the worst ever published. You might have thought the report would demoralise, demotivate and cause people to hang their heads in despair.
That is not the case.
I am writing this inbetween meetings with partners and have met and spoken to staff and businesses. Believe it or not, the report has lanced a boil. It is a watershed, and has released energy for change.
As the Mayor of Doncaster says, this report has to be a fresh start for Doncaster to better serve all of its people. A key partner has just said to me that Doncaster has the best chance to change it has ever had.
What can I do in the couple of months I am acting chief executive? Seize the day. My first task was to get the council and all of its constituent parts to focus on how they would communicate their responses to the draft report.
Not everybody has recognised that the report is right, and it is time to change. That is a big challenge. My priority is to make sure the relationships and foundations are in place to get the right intervention and begin the improvement journey.
One thing is for sure, Doncaster needs intervention to help it make the necessary changes and its people need external reassurance that the change is actually happening. Our partners are also clear that we are in this together, and together we will come up with a practical list of ‘must do’s’ that will change the way Doncaster works.
Doncaster’s children’s services department is experiencing intervention and moving forward to improve outcomes for our young people. Other failing councils have gone from some of the worst to the best after intervention. So Doncaster can do it but it can’t do it alone. We need to use the best of the best in the sector, harness the energy of our staff and partners, and use the framework and intervention to give Doncaster a fresh start.
Jo Miller, deputy chief executive, Local Government Association Group and acting chief executive, Doncaster MBC
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