Northumberland County Council to make governance changes in wake of Max Caller report

Northumberland County Council has began making changes to its arms-length development company Advance in the wake of the damning Max Caller report on governance at the authority.

By James Robinson
Thursday, 14th July 2022, 10:44 am
Updated Thursday, 14th July 2022, 10:45 am

The Caller report claimed “arrangements for an effective governance framework by the council are not yet in place” in terms of Advance, four years after it was established following the dissolution of its highly controversial predecessor, Arch.

The council’s ruling body says work is under way on implementing changes to adhere to the report’s recommendations.

It has amended the quorum (the number of members needed at a meeting to legally conduct business and make decisions) required for board meetings so that there must be a minimum of 50% of the board directors, including at least one member appointed by the council. According to the council’s finance chief Jan Willis, the concept of “relevant agreements” have also been introduced to ensure “greater flexibility” for the council to make changes to the company.

Northumberland County Council has began making changes to its arms-length development company Advance in the wake of the damning Max Caller report on governance at the authority.

The council has also “tidied up” shareholder rights in terms of attending meetings and issuing directions to the company. It was also made clear that the council’s shareholder representative did not have voting rights and would only be there to represent the views of the shareholder – the county council being Advance’s sole shareholder.

Speaking at a meeting of the council’s cabinet, deputy leader Coun Richard Wearmouth said: “The council and in particular cabinet as an administration have been proactively addressing issues raised by Mr Caller’s report.

“It is right and proper that we respect the findings of Mr Caller. We’re making sure that our internal council processes are fit for purpose.”