Tower Hamlets Deputy Mayor stands down

Saunders announced her resignation last night on Facebook Pic: Tower Hamlets Council

Deputy Mayor Rachel Saunders, who led the Child Services Department condemned by Ofsted for “serious failures” has submitted her resignation from Tower Hamlets Council.

Councillor Rabina Khan, Leader of the People’s Alliance of Tower Hamlets, said Saunders had “accepted the inevitable” and added it came as no surprise:  “Saunders’ department was found to have left children at risk of harm when, according to Ofsted, she failed to turn up to a single meeting of the statutory safeguarding board she is supposed to sit on.”

Saunders was moved to Health and Adult Services in April after the Ofsted report found the council had a “lack of understanding” about fostering arrangements in the borough and “failed to consider whether children had been trafficked or abandoned” by their parents.

The report also found that services for neglected children had “deteriorated” since 2012.

Ofsted “identified serious and widespread failings across the service for children in need of help and protection” and said that “elected members and senior leaders cannot be confident that children in Tower Hamlets are safe”.

Khan also said she hoped Saunders would appear before a Scrutiny Committee on the report before she leaves office, adding: “The public want answers – they want to know how this happened and that our kids are now safe.”

Over 3,000 children in Tower Hamlets use a specialist children’s service and as of January, 333 children are looked after by the local authority.

In a Facebook post last night, Saunders wrote: “I’m standing down from the council next May. It is time to make space for others to come through. I have loved representing Mile End – and I’m not going anywhere, I’ll be a part of Team Labour, wanting you to win.”

Saunders will step down as Deputy Mayor at the end of the month and as a councillor for Mile End in 2018.

No announcement has been made as to who will replace Saunders as Deputy Mayor.

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