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Government intervention in Doncaster to end early after good progress made

Government intervention at Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council is to end almost a year early in recognition of progress made in tackling its problems.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles put Doncaster under statutory intervention in 2010, with three commissioners overseeing the council.

This followed serious failings in corporate governance and a lack of internal capacity to drive improvement.

Pickles said: “The council’s previous attempts to address its problems had failed, allowing poor and failing services to continue. In particular the council operated to frustrate what the then [elected] mayor and cabinet sought to do, the mayor and cabinet showed a lack of efficient leadership, and the desire to pursue long standing political antagonisms were given priority over much-needed improvements to services for the public.”

The intervention had been due to end on 31 July 2015. But Pickles said a Local Government Association peer review had last month concluded that Doncaster had materially improved and was “no longer an outlier in terms of the performance except with regard to children’s services”.

He concluded: “It is clear to me that, given the level of improvement that Doncaster has now achieved, continuing the statutory corporate intervention will add little, if any, value.”

Ending the intervention early does not affect a separate intervention by the Department for Education over children’s social care services, as a result of which responsibility for this is due in September to transfer from the council to an independent trust. Intervention will formally end once this trust is operational.

Elected mayor Ros Jones, who took office during the intervention, said: "I have been determined to lead Doncaster Council out of Government intervention and I am delighted with this announcement which recognises how much the council has changed. It is testament of everybody's hard work.”

Mark Smulian

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