Government appoints new Doncaster Council chief

Image caption, The Audit Commission report was published in April

The government has appointed a new chief executive and three commissioners to lead a council which was criticised over the deaths of seven children.

Doncaster Council was "failing" and incapable of making improvements, the Audit Commission said in April.

Its social services department was criticised over the deaths of seven local children who had been abused.

The council also apologised for failures which allowed two brothers to torture two other boys in Edlington.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said the measures would turn the council around "after 15 years of poor governance and dysfunctional politics".

'Seriously weak'

The current chief executive of Kirklees Council, Rob Vincent, will become the authority's new chief executive.

A team of three commissioners will also be appointed with powers to appoint, discipline or dismiss officers.

A non-executive board will be set up to monitor progress and report to the secretary of state.

Mr Pickles said: "The dysfunctional politics, poor services and ineffective leadership identified by the Audit Commission, all must be addressed.

"All parties have agreed that intervention is needed and the package of measures we're announcing today will ensure that Doncaster gets the proper leadership and expertise that is urgently required for turning this situation around."

In March 2009, the government ordered a takeover of Doncaster's children's services after the deaths of seven children in the district through abuse or neglect over five years.

An independent review found childcare provision was "seriously weak".

In January 2010, a serious case review found that the attacks in Edlington, in which two young boys were tortured by two brothers, aged 11 and 12, had been "preventable".

The council issued an unqualified apology for "failings which led to this terrible incident".

Then the Audit Commission report in April found the people of Doncaster were "not well-served" by the council.

It said political rivalries were being given priority over "much-needed improvements" to public services.

The council now have time to discuss the government's intervention proposals before a final statutory order is introduced on 23 June.

'Difficulties' ahead

New chief executive Rob Vincent said: "I am looking forward to committing myself to helping Doncaster re-find its stride and make the progress that all who know the town are looking for.

"It has had many problems over a number of years, and there will be difficulties in finding a confident way forward.

"But it is clear that many individuals, officers and politicians, remain highly committed and motivated to achieve the best for local people."

Mayor Peter Davies said in a statement: "We note the draft directions and welcome much of what they say.

"During the three week consultation period we will continue to make representations to the government for the benefit of Doncaster."

Don Valley MP Caroline Flint said: "The decision to bring in commissioners to help Doncaster Council get back on its feet is welcome.

"I hope Doncaster's mayor, councillors and officers will co-operate fully with the team of experts that are being bought in, in the best interests of the people of Doncaster who rely on the important services the council provides."

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