03:57PM, Wednesday 01 December 2021
Slough Borough Council's offices
The Government has confirmed the appointment of commissioners to Slough to try and repair the council’s financial crisis.
Slough Borough Council has borrowing debts of more than £750 million and had to ban all non-essential spending in July by issuing a Section 114 notice.
Local Government minister Kemi Badenoch said there is ‘overwhelming evidence’ that the local authority has failed its residents.
The in-coming commissioners include Max Caller, who led best value inspections at Northamptonshire and Liverpool, both of which recently required Government intervention.
He will be supported by finance commissioner Margaret Lee, a former statutory finance officer at Essex County Council.
She also currently works as a member of the improvement and assurance panel at Croydon Borough Council, which also banned all non-essential spending last year.
The team will immediately take over several functions associated with financial management and governance after an independent review concluded the council was failing in its best value duty in these areas.
Tory MP Ms Badenoch said: “There is overwhelming evidence that Slough Borough Council has failed its residents and it is necessary for government to intervene.
"I have appointed experienced commissioners who will start the process of rebuilding confidence and trust between the council, councillors and the communities they serve.”
Councillor James Swindlehurst, leader of the council, said: "The council remains in a very challenging position financially.
“We have worked over the summer to identify savings, reducing large budget gaps in both the current year and for 2022/3.
“We are now addressing the recommendations from the two government-commissioned reports and preparing a new Medium Term Financial Strategy – which will inevitably involve further difficult decisions.
“The council is in constructive discussions with government to conclude how much of our financial repair can be funded through capitalisation (sales of capital assets), with SBC having requested a significant sum.
“I look forward to welcoming the commissioners to Slough and working with them until the issues in the review reports have been fully resolved by us all.
“Together we can continue to make major strides at pace in righting the wrongs of our past and putting the council on a sustainable financial footing, improving our governance and making the right decisions for our residents and town.”
The commissioners will provide a report on their findings within the next three months.