Doncaster Council takes step towards end of ‘special measures’

A YORKSHIRE council has taken a major step towards coming out of “special measures” after it was given a clean bill of health by a team of local government experts.

Doncaster Mayor Ros Jones
Doncaster Mayor Ros Jones

The review of Doncaster Council found it is “functioning well” with staff reporting a “sea change” in the culture of the authority.

Doncaster Council was the subject of a damning Audit Commission report four years ago which found the authority was “failing”.

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The report triggered intervention by the Government which appointed a team of commissioners to oversee the running of the council.

Earlier this year, lead commissioner Rob Sykes recommended the intervention continue for another year.

But the latest review of the authority has been welcomed as a positive sign the council is on the road to recovery.

Ros Jones, executive mayor of Doncaster, said: ““In the past the council has let down the people of Doncaster. However, we now have clear plans and much improved governance.

“We’re under no illusion that we still have more work to do but we are in a much better place now than we were previously. Our focus on continuing to do things better and differently remains sharp.”

Doncaster Council has faced particular criticism over its children’s services in the wake of the notorious case of two young children who were tortured by brothers in Edlington and the death of seven children in five years related to abuse or neglect.

The running of children’s services is due to be transferred into a arms-length trust later this year and the report sounds a note of caution warning that the move will not solve the problem by itself. It says there is”emerging evidence” that the quality of social work is beginning to improve adding “senior management are under no illusions about the scale and challenges of the tasks they face”.

Jo Miller, Doncaster Council’s chief executive, said: “Knowing our improvements have been validated by distinguished and experienced local government commentators makes me pleased at how far we’ve come. We know there is still work to do in a number of areas.

“Now it’s time to look towards the future and we’ll be using the feedback to inform our future plans so that we can improve further and have a real positive impact on the people of Doncaster.”