By Matt Jarram, Local Democracy Journalist
Nottingham City Council must approve a new constitution – which includes changes to the way it makes certain decisions – following a series of financial problems.
The Labor-run authority will also start drawing up an action plan after an independent report in June called the review of its board-run businesses “superficial and inadequate”.
The council was given three years by the government to improve its financial stability following a series of problems, including the creation of Robin Hood Energy, which caused losses estimated at Â£ 38million during its input function.
The authority now has a recovery and improvement plan, part of which provides a rewritten constitution on how authority is managed and examines how it reviews the decisions it makes.
If the comprehensive plan does not work, the government could step in to control the authority’s spending. He has already told the board that he wants to see “a credible long-term transformation strategy.”
The new constitution of the council wants to increase the responsibilities of the officers for certain operational decisions.
The decision-making powers of agents can now go up to Â£ 149,999. Previously, advisers in portfolio positions made most decisions worth Â£ 50,000 and over.
At the same time, the rules for key decisions made by the board’s executive team, which includes the board head and portfolio holders, are also being changed.
Now a decision between the value of Â£ 150,000 to Â£ 749,999 can be made by them, up from Â£ 1million previously.
But if a decision is worth more than Â£ 750,000, it will be made by the head of the board, its board of directors, who can delegate that to an officer or portfolio holder. It used to be Â£ 1million or more.
The council says the rewritten constitution is easier to understand and establishes “clear chains of accountability” for officers and advisers.
Communal companies are also part of the statutes. The council governs companies which include Nottingham City Transport (NCT), Nottingham City Homes (NCH), EnviroEnergy, NET Trams, Nottingham Ice Arena and Thomas Bow City Asphalt.
The rewritten constitution says these companies will have monthly reports on performance and accounts, as well as how business goals can be achieved.
The Governance and Review Center (CfGS) released a report in June that strongly criticized the way the local authority reviews itself.
The report found that the committees set up to hold the authority to account were failing.
He said: âThe review itself is essentially disconnected from the extraordinary challenge the board now faces and has been largely absent from its duty to challenge the activities, decisions and events that have brought it to the point of crisis. .
âThe review of executive and board corporations was superficial and inadequate, in part because the review lacks a clearly understood role and the lack of appropriate information on which to base its review. “
The report added: âIn exploring the reasons for this situation, the impact of an inherited culture of loyalty to a dominant party / group must be recognized.
âAlthough such loyalties are a familiar aspect of politics and democracy, adherence to this code over time has resulted in any public protest being seen as ‘disloyalty’.
âFinances and budgets are only subject to superficial scrutiny and there is little in-depth analytical challenge to the budgeting process or the board’s financial performance.
âIn all committees there was little interest and involvement in budget execution or achieving results with limited resources.
âPerhaps more worrying, the committees do not seem sufficiently perceptive about the implications that the company’s financial challenge may have on the future design and delivery of services.
âCommittee meetings should consist primarily of holding members of the executive or, where appropriate, the leader, supported by officers, to account. “
The full council is due to review and approve the rewritten constitution on Monday, September 13. If accepted, it will come into effect on October 1.
He is also expected to accept the independent report and begin to develop an action plan with the recommendations made.
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