The Minister said that the Council, which is currently under the stewardship of five commissioners appointed by the Minister in March 2011 is making good progress and is concentrating effectively and consistently on the issues that matter to the island.
However the Minister said he would be extending his direction to the Council from the end of May to the end of September 2012 due to the recruitment of a new senior management team being underway. This, he said, would allow the senior team to be appointed and to settle into their new role.
Carl Sargeant said:
"My Commissioners have concluded that while there remain some concerns about the Council’s governance, there are no longer any serious risks. The Auditor General has reached a similar view, and recommended that I should begin planning how to end my intervention.
"Whilst I agree with and accept the views of both I am not yet convinced that the Council is able to fulfil it alone. I have said before that the recovery will not be complete until we have renewed democracy on the island, and until elections take place on terms which are more likely to yield a representative and accountable council. That cannot happen until next year.
"The Council also needs to finish recruiting a new and strengthened senior management team to bring stability, capacity and expertise; and to tackle some intractable problems of service delivery. Progress so far on this has been very good, with a high level of interest from some highly-qualified and well- regarded public servants. But until that team is in place and clearly functioning well, I cannot be sure that the recovery will be sustained."
Commissioners will remain in full control until the senior team is in post. If at that point the Minister and the Commissioners are satisfied that Councillors and the senior team are ready to take charge and if progress elsewhere continues to be maintained then the Minister said he will start to bring his intervention to an end. That would initially mean reducing the Commissioners’ presence and responsibilities. Councillors would resume control, subject to being overridden by Commissioners if they act unwisely or unreasonably. It would also be possible for Commissioners to take over again in full if the recovery stalled.
The Minister said he would also be asking the Independent Remuneration Panel to consider restoring senior salaries for members of the Council’s executive which were withdrawn last year when the Minister transferred the executive’s powers to Commissioners.
Carl Sargeant added:
"This approach will allow us to test the sustainability of change in a controlled environment. It will mean an early return to local decision-making, with appropriate safeguards. If that proves successful, I should be able to end my intervention completely soon after next year’s elections."