THE politician in charge of children’s services said he had done all he could to protect young people by inviting inspectors to expose the failings of the county council.
Opposition members have called for the resignation of Councillor Andrew Grant (Brackley East), over his record of attending meetings of the Local Children’s Safeguarding Board, for which he missed five out of six meetings last year.
Yesterday’s report was also critical, saying: “Senior leaders and elected members have not focussed sufficiently on ensuring that the quality of services is effective or that agencies are working together effectively.”
But Councillor Grant said he had no intention of stepping down.
He said: “I’m only an observer on the safeguarding board. There were times when I was on holiday or at other meetings, but I always had somebody to provide the information from the board.”
He added: “I believe that so far I’ve taken all the appropriate actions I should have as lead member. I have tried to ensure the service is run to the best of our ability.
“It’s not for me to go around finding out what people are doing and how they’re doing it. I’m there to be given information on which to make a decision.
“There was a job to be done and if on Thursday at the full council meeting there’s a debate, and a decision is made on that debate, then so be it.
“You look back and work out if things could have been done better or differently, but I truly believe that bringing in Ofsted has been the right and proper decision.
“I have taken the moral high ground on this as a politician and put children above politics and I stand by what we have done, regardless of how unpalatable it is to some people.”
Remedial action is under way
Immediate actions have already been taken place to address the ‘inadequate’ children’s services report.
Among them are measures within the much-criticised out-of-hours service, where changes are promised to signing off inquiries, to ensure safe decisions are made.
Councillor Andrew Grant also said the surprise £1 million addition to the children’s services pot, announced at the last month’s budget meeting, may be spent on helping at- risk young people have a say.
He said: “The lack of a voice for the child came through. We’d want to see more resources in there and the director has already approved, not a vast additional resource, but a couple of people to advance that area.”
The county council is also getting more resources from the police and NHS for the multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH), the triage service for child protection referrals, to ensure all the right information is shared when there are concerns about a child.
Council chief executive, Paul Blantern, said: “Our immediate goal is to raise standards across the board across the county so when Ofsted next comes they will be able to see significant and far-reaching improvements.