THE Government commissioners appointed to tackle failures at Sandwell Council have so far cost more than £580,000, according to the latest figures.

Newly-published figures show the Government-appointed commissioners Kim Bromley-Derry and Jim Taylor took home £581,000 between them from March 2022 until the end of last year.

Ministers announced last week that the two-year Government intervention at Sandwell Council, which was enforced due to serious concerns over the authority’s leadership and governance, would come to an end this month. Auditors Grant Thorton had revealed a “deeply troubling picture of mismanagement and of ineffective scrutiny and accountability arrangements.”

This comes after figures published last week revealed the first year of intervention cost £375,000 in fees and expenses.

The new figures show the pair were paid £545,000 in fees with three months of figures still to be published.

The commissioner’s fees were set by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities but paid by Sandwell Council. 

Kim Bromley-Derry, who had been serving as interim chief executive at Sandwell Council since August 2021, was appointed lead commissioner with Jim Taylor serving as assistant commissioner in 2022 when the intervention was announced.

The two commissioners’ expenses bill totalled £37,750 which included petrol, hotels, train fares, taxi rides and food.

Between March 2022 and December 2023, Mr Bromley-Derry was paid £354,600 in fees and nearly £30,000 in expenses – which included nearly £18,500 on hotels and just over £11,000 on petrol.

A monthly fee of £20,400 was paid in July and August 2022 and £22,800 was paid to Mr Bromley-Derry in January 2023 followed by £11,400 payments in February and March. 

Last July, the commissioners announced they would be ‘stepping back’ from Sandwell – spending less time at the council while saying that improvements still needed to be made.

Nevertheless, Mr Bromley-Derry received £82,200 in fees from August until the end of the year – including a £22,200 fee in November.

The average yearly salary in Sandwell is £30,280, according to figures published by the Office for National Statistics for 2023.

Assistant commissioner Jim Taylor received £190,850 in fees with his expenses bill totalling nearly £6,000.

In a report published on March 7, Mr Bromley-Derry and Mr Taylor said the council was now capable of ‘going it alone’ without the Government-enforced help and Sandwell Council was a “far cry” from the authority of two years ago.

“The staff, the elected members, and most importantly, the residents, have all noted the changes,” the fourth and final commissioners’ report said. 

“The improvement work which was once seen as a standalone priority has now been interwoven with the ‘business as usual’ strategic planning of the council.”

Cllr Kerrie Carmichael, the leader of Sandwell Council, said: “We are delighted ministers have concluded that the directions can be lifted. To have achieved this within two years is testament to the huge amount of work that has got us to this point.

“From the outset of this process we accepted that we needed to make significant improvements. Our focus throughout has been to make sure we are set up to deliver the best possible outcomes for our residents, and that has meant changing the way we operate.

“This is not the end of our journey. We are really pleased to have made sufficient progress to get out of intervention but are determined to continue this trajectory and are striving for excellence. I want to thank council officers for their efforts and the commissioners for the constructive way in which they have approached their role.”