Raynsford acts on Hull
The government will intervene at Hull Council following today's publication of a damning Audit Commission report which found ‘wide-ranging weaknesses' stemming largely from the authority's handling of its housing stock.Local government minister Nick Raynsford has announced that he will appoint a government representative to work with the council to enforce the recommendations in the report.He said: ‘I am extremely concerned by the findings of this report and that insufficient progress on improvement has been made by the council. ‘I met the council's senior politicians yesterday to register my concerns and to discuss how these are to be addressed. I have now initiated the process of consulting upon a statutory direction to the council.'He said the appointee would have a small support team and would report back ‘as soon as possible', giving advice on what action needed to be taken to address the shortcomings identified in the Audit Commission's report.The commission recommended that the government intervene at the council after its report found that Hull had ‘not made substantial, or sufficient, progress' since its first corporate governance inspection in 2002.In particular the report criticises the authority for failing to make sufficient progress on housing stock reduction and in developing a viable long-term housing strategy. The fundamental cause of the council's shortcomings is ‘poor political leadership and governance', it concludes.The council's acting chief executive Jan Didrichsen said the leadership accepted the basis for much of the report and was ready to act upon it. ‘Any disagreements on specific issues will be set aside so that everyone in the organisation can focus their energies on improving the way the council is run,' he said.‘With a new corporate management team now working effectively, and appointments to a new senior management team starting this week, the council now has an opportunity to work with members of all parties to improve services and tackle the major issues.'