The Kerslake review into how Birmingham City Council is run was published just before Christmas sparking much discussion. I think the review is extremely valuable and gives a number of recommendations that politicians from all parties can agree and work towards. Bob Kerslake recognised that Birmingham is a great city but that its council has struggled over many years to counter the challenges it has faced. This is not a party political point, leaderships of all parties have not been sufficiently radical. Big changes are coming in Birmingham but we must make sure they improve the services received by residents. Large scale regeneration projects are necessary but they will not make Birmingham a better place to live on their own.
Mr Kerslake has suggested a boundary review that will see changes to the number of councillors and the size of our wards. This will mean a lot of upheaval but I for one will be fighting to ensure that any new ward boundaries properly reflect the communities in this area. We should not get bogged down in the detail of boundary changes and must instead look to the bigger picture of how this city must function in the future. The fact is that we will have significantly less money for the foreseeable future and that the council will be a much smaller organisation than it has been in the recent past but other councils face these problems too.
My view is that the council must do less but it must do it better, it can longer be all things to all men. There are some areas that we simply must improve including child protection and unemployment. Along with providing basic services like libraries, parks and waste collection these should be the priorities of the council. The focus on structures should not get in the way of providing high quality and accessible services to the people of this city.