1. ITV Report

Birmingham council watchdog to stay on after bin strikes 'serious setback'

A government-led watchdog will continue to monitor Birmingham City Council due to the ongoing bins dispute - just weeks after praising improvements and suggesting it could disband.

Credit: ITV News Central

In an e-mailed report sent today, the Birmingham Independent Improvement Panel (BIIP) warned that the strikes had been a “serious setback” to progress at the authority, and had caused “major inconvenience to the city’s residents”.

It comes as the High Court ruled in favour of bin workers, granting an injunction to prevent redundancies.

In August, panel chairman John Crabtree had praised “progress and forward momentum” at the council, and said the panel should suspend its operation with only minimal contact in future.

But as the bin strikes rumbled on, rubbish piled up across the city’s streets, and the council leader John Clancy stepped down amid questions over whether he abused his powers, Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid asked for an update.

Credit: ITV News Central

Today, Mr Crabtree replied to say he was “disappointed” to have to report the setback.

Following the events of recent weeks the Council now faces a period of significant transition.

A new leader will be elected and in the coming months the council hopes to appoint a permanent chief executive, and to make permanent appointments to other key senior manager roles, including the Corporate Director of Finance.

At the same time the council has recognised, as we explained in our previous letter, that it still has a great deal of ‘catch up’ work to do for the council to function with fully effective corporate governance and major change programmes to modernise its key services over the next five years.

– John Crabtree, BIIP chairman

He added that he had met with Cllr Ian Ward, the interim council leader, and Stella Manzie, the council's interim chief executive, who had agreed it would be "helpful" for the panel to continue "until it can demonstrate that the changes in culture and governance still required are truly embedded."

Cllr Ward said he would continue to work with the panel.