Meet the eight government commissioners running Birmingham City Council amid ‘bankruptcy’

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has announced the names of the eight commissioners and political advisors who are taking over the running of Birmingham City Council
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Six commissioners and two political advisors are set to take over the running of Birmingham City Council following its Section 114 notice in which it was declared effectively bankrupt.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has announced the names of its team today (Thursday, October 5). Birmingham City Council officially voted to accept the Section 114 notice and agree to spending cuts at an extraordinary meeting last Monday (September 25).

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Leader of the council Cllr John Cotton and Chief Executive Deborah Cadman have vowed to work constructively with the commissioners to tackle the authority’s financial crisis as its equal pay bill has risen to £1bn. The commissioners could be in place until 2028.

The team is headed up by Max Caller, who has become the government’s go-to expert in recent years when it has intervened in local councils, having led recovery teams in Slough and Northamptonshire which were both declared effectively bankrupt.

Each of the six commissioners have received a letter from the DLUHC Deputy Director for Local Government Stewardship Max Soule outlining their pay deals. The letter also clearly states that “it is the Authority’s responsibility to meet these costs”. It is estimated that the total bill will be as much as £1.5m annually - so could cost up to £7.5m in total.

Here’s the team of commissioners and political advisors who will be running Birmingham City Council.

1. Max Caller CBE - paid £1,200 a day

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Leading local government figure Max Caller CBE has been confirmed as the Lead Commissioner for Birmingham City Council. He is the former Chief Executive at Londn boroughs Hackney and Barnet and the Chair of the Local Government Boundary Commission for England.

He has experience in multiple interventions, including having previously been Lead Commissioner at Slough, Lead Inspector for the Liverpool and Northamptonshire Best Value Inspections, and a Commissioner at Tower Hamlets. Mr Caller also has experience of working with Birmingham City Council, having been appointed by the Council as one of their Non-Executive Advisors following the non-statutory intervention.

2. John Coughlan CBE - paid £1,100 a day

Current Commissioner for Special Educational Needs and Disability services and former Chief Executive of Hampshire County Council. has significant expertise in local authority governance, is the former Chief Executive of Hampshire County Council and has extensive experience of local government interventions especially in children’s services.

Mr Coughlan has been asked to focus on broad improvement, by supporting cultural change and transformation and driving forward work on the long-term sustainability of the Authority. His role will operate alongside his role as Commissioner for Special Educational Needs and Disability services in Birmingham, for which he reports to the Secretary of State for Education.

3. Chris Tambini - £1,100 a day

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Former Director of Corporate Resources at Leicestershire County Council, where he has held other roles including Section 151 Officer and Head of Strategic Finance. He was the President of the Society of County Treasurers and also worked at city unitary councils.

Mr Tambini will focus on the financial position and recovery of the Authority. This will include supporting the Authority’s work to develop and implement a plan for managing the significant equal pay liabilities that led to the Section 114 notices, and overseeing the steps needed to manage other budget pressures for 2023/24 and beyond, and to return the Authority to a position of long-term financial sustainability.

It will also include considering what action may be necessary to ensure the Authority has appropriate and effective processes, governance and capacity in relation to its overall financial management.

Birmingham City Council HouseBirmingham City Council House
Birmingham City Council House

4. Pam Parkes FCIPD - £1,100 a day

The current Executive Director for People and Transformation at Essex County Council, is a FCIPD qualified senior practitioner and was part of the Best Value Inspection Team in Thurrock Council.

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Pam Parkes will focus on supporting Birmingham to improve its Human Resource and Organisational Design capacity and to find solutions to the Equal Pay issue, including ensuring that appropriate steps are being taken at the required pace to address and manage its equal pay liabilities, in a way that is both sustainable and represents value for money. 

5. Jackie Belton - £1,100 a day

Chief Executive of the London Borough of Bexley, the former Executive Director of Operations at the London Borough of Newham where she was responsible for Housing, Planning, Regeneration and Environment, and was Assistant Director of Housing Strategy at the London Borough of Camden. Jackie Belton will focus on supporting the Authority’s housing function.

6. Myron Hrycyk - £1,100 a day

Cabinet Office’s Crown Representative for Oracle, IBM and Microsoft. Myron Hrycyk has held prior senior executive roles as Group Chief Information Officer and Chief Procurement Officer at Severn Trent Water and as Chief Information Officer at Yusen Logistics.

Myron has worked in a range of sectors including Financial Services, Technology, Utilities and Logistics. Myron will focus on supporting the Authority to rectify its Oracle issues, improve IT and provide commercial insight.

7. Political advisor - Lord John Hutton

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Former Defence Secretary and Business Secretary under the previous Labour Government.  held roles as Defence Secretary and Business Secretary under the previous Labour Government.

In 2010 he led a major review of public sector pension provision, and more recently he was appointed Chair of Make UK. He is currently the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Turkey and a current member of the House of Lords.

8. Political advisor - John Biggs

Former Executive Mayor of Tower Hamlets and held prior roles there as Leader of the Labour Group and Council Leader. He has also served in the London Assembly. He has now retired from elected politics.

What has Birmingham City Council said about the eight commissioners leading the authority amid effective bankruptcy?

Cllr Cotton and Ms Cadman issued a joint statement saying:  "Max Caller is a vastly experienced local government expert with a strong track record in transforming and improving councils and we welcome his appointment as the lead commissioner. We believe his knowledge of the City and his previous experience as a non-Executive advisor to the authority will be an invaluable asset.

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"Our sole focus now is on working with the commissioners in a collaborative way to meet the immediate challenges and set the Council on the journey to long-term sustained improvement.

"That work is already underway and the expert input from the commissioners will be invaluable as we work to transform the council and get the budget back on track."

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