A request to the government from the council’s Commissioners for further powers has been agreed.
Commissioners, who have been brought in following the council issuing a Section 114 notice, had asked to expand the current Directions to include the structure and recruitment for tiers two and three staff, without following the usual council procedures.
This was so they can get the right people in place, quickly, to help with the council’s recovery programme.
A letter sent to the Commissioners, dated 28 July, said the Secretary of State was ‘minded to approve’ the request and a consultation period followed.
No representations were received that did not support the proposed expansion to the intervention package.
The powers have now been approved and confirmed in a new report from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, issued on 1 September.
The report, said: “The Secretary of State, having considered the representations made…considers it necessary and expedient, in accordance with his powers under section 15(5) and (6) of the 1999 Act, to expand the intervention package in order to secure the Authority’s future and sustainable compliance with its best value duty.”
Councillor James Swindlehurst, leader of the council, said: “We accept the previous restructure and S114 have left staff vacancies. There is an urgent task to fill the staff structure and have proper teams to do the jobs needed by the council. To get us to the place to be a functional organisation again we have accepted the Commissioners may need the powers to get this sorted and we are cooperating.
“This is short-term while we are trying to get into a better place. We all agree we want an appropriately skilled workforce which can represent the diverse community of Slough. We hope the Commissioners hold these new powers in reserve and use them only if they feel we cannot make sound decisions ourselves.”
Chief Operating Officer, Stephen Brown, said: “We know there is more to do on the officer structure, and we welcome the decision to grant the Commissioners further powers to help us tackle this issue. We are committed to the pace of change needed and want to retain our dedicated and competent staff to see us through these next challenges and to best serve our residents.”
The new Directions will be in force until 30 November 2024, unless the Secretary of State considers it appropriate to amend or revoke them at an earlier date.