EXCLUSIVE Northamptonshire County Council denies social services chief quit over ‘secret’ Ofsted report

Charlie MacNally, outgoing director of Northamptonshire County Council's adult and child Services
Charlie MacNally, outgoing director of Northamptonshire County Council's adult and child Services

The head of Northamptonshire County Council has denied the head of social services is being moved on over a damning inspection report on children’s services.

Councillors at today’s County Hall meeting alleged that the children’s social services department had received a very poor draft Ofsted report and Charlie MacNally’s imminent departure is linked to him being head of the service.

They said the draft report from the visit, for which Ofsted were invited by the local authority’s bosses, was so bad a repeat emergency inspection is now planned.

They said safeguarding issues had been raised and demanded that an agreement between Ofsted and Northamptonshire County Council, put in place before the inspection, be waived.

Councillor Tony Clarke (Ind, Castle), alleged the reasons behind Mr MacNally’s departure, as well as the surprise announcement today that a proposed £2.6m cut to children’s social care has been reinstated, were actions based on the draft report.

He said:: “We all know the recent restructure has in part been because of our recent Ofsted inspection. We know that Mr MacNally’s demise is due to that.

“He will be made responsible for what the report says.

“I understand the outcome is not to be celebrated and it raises serious questions about safeguarding.”

Robin Brown, cabinet member for adult social services, and Paul Blantern, the council’s chief executive, denied Mr MacNally is to leave over the recent inspection.

Councillor Brown said: “The issue that has been raised about the report is not the driver for the changes in personnel in several departments we have just made.”

Mr Blantern said: “I do not want the departure of a great colleague to be tarnished with anything that may or may not be talked about in the weeks to come.”

Councillor Clarke invited the cabinet member for children’s social services, Catherine Boardman, to confirm what he alleged would eventually come out from Ofsted. Other opposition councillors demanded she also step down.

She said: “Safeguarding is a priority for this council. When I was appointed to my position in October last year, it had been identified that the service we had was not up to the required standard.

“One of the things we wanted to do was invite in Ofsted.

“This was to be an unpublished report, but when it is finalised it will be shared in detail with colleagues. We will be using the report to bring the children’s service up to the standard they need to be.

“I stand up here not as someone who feels they have to bow out but someone who has a job to do.”

A spokeswoman for the county council said: “The changes being made at the council’s corporate management team are a response to significant changes to the council’s responsibilities and to emerging national policies. We have been planning these changes for some time because like any organisation we have to constantly adapt to the ever-changing world in which we operate.”

About the Ofsted inspection, the council spokeswoman said: “As part of Ofsted’s new tougher inspection regime, we volunteered to take part in a pilot inspection of the county’s multi-agency safeguarding arrangements. We have not yet received the final report following this inspection but once this has been received we will, of course, be publishing details of the findings.”