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Michael Gove’s return to cabinet casts uncertainty over Nottingham city council intervention

A councillor says he is “not yet sure” if Nottingham City Council has the confidence of ministers after Michael Gove’s return to the cabinet cast uncertainty over further Government intervention.

Mr Gove was made levelling up secretary again yesterday (October 27)  as part of a cabinet reshuffle by new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

He returns to the job just over three months after he was sacked during the collapse of Boris Johnson’s administration.

Mr Gove’s re-appointment is significant to Nottingham City Council because he had previously announced he was “minded” to further intervene in the authority by sending in Government-appointed commissioners to take control of operations.

But he was fired on July 6 while the Labour-run council was still waiting for a final decision on the plan.

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His replacement, Greg Clarke, appointed by Mr Johnson before his resignation, reneged on the proposal to appoint the commissioners having said he felt “it is help I want to give, rather than any sense of punishment”.

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He instead opted to  the powers of the Improvement and Assurance Board.

Mr Clarke served for two months before he was replaced by Simon Clarke, as appointed by Liz Truss.

Ms Truss served as Prime Minister for 44 days before resigning and former chancellor Rishi Sunak took the reigns, leading to Mr Gove’s return in the job.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, said abbot any intervention: “A decision will be made in due course.”

Cllr Andrew Rule (Con), who represents Clifton West on the city council, said: “I really welcome Mr Gove’s appointment back to the cabinet and I think his Levelling Up White Paper was pretty well-regarded.

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“The one thing you can say about him is he does the detail and gets to grips with whatever brief he is given.

“Ultimately, however he would be the one who signed off on council intervention, but it was Kemi Badenoch who was making the decision.

“It would very much depend on the junior minister team responding to the reports of the Improvement and Assurances Board.

“I’m not sure if we have the full confidence of junior ministers, but they will want to give the council the fairest opportunity to respond.”

Asked if he believes the decisions of previous Levelling Up Secretaries will be revisited before the new year, Cllr Rule added: “I do not think so.

“I think they will want consistency.”

 

Nottingham City Council said it would not be commenting further, but council leader Cllr David Mellen (Lab) has before raised concerns over a lack of consistency in Government.

Nottingham City Council’s Improvement and Assurance Board was appointed following the collapse of Robin Hood Energy in 2020.

Since then, other financial problems have emerged including misspends totalling £40m between the council’s Housing Revenue Account (HRA) and the general fund, with some cash intended for council tenants ‘unlawfully’ transferred to the authority’s general fund for other services between 2014/15 and 2019/20.

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