Croydon council leader urged to quit after damning children’s services report

Bernard Weatherhill Council House in Croydon. Pic: Wikimedia Commons

The government has taken control of Croydon children’s services following an Ofsted report that said  “widespread and serious” failures were leaving children at risk.

Croydon South MP Chris Philp called for council leader Tony Newman and cabinet member for children Alisa Flemming to resign, describing the Ofsted report as “an unacceptable failure”.

The Ofsted report said: “When circumstances for some children do not improve, the local authority is either too slow to take action or reduces the level of support without evidence of demonstrable progress. This means that some children remain in harmful situations for too long.

“Too many children wait too long for a decision to be made as to whether they need to be looked after, or they return home without sufficient support. This has left them at risk of significant harm from neglectful parenting.”

The report also identified 1,789 children as being formally in need of a specialist children’s service, and 399 children and young people as the subject of a child protection plan.

Eleanor Brazil has been appointed by the government to improve the children’s services in the borough. Brazil previously worked with Haringey council following the Baby P scandal.

Ofsted gave 21 recommendations of how Croydon can improve its children’s services. These include reviewing the roles and responsibilities of managers at all to ensure they are competent enough to make decisions about children’s permanent care, as well as ensuring that children missing from home or care have every opportunity to speak to an independent person about the reasons they go missing.

Council leader Tony Newman said he would “definitely” not be resigning. He told the Croydon Advertiser: “I think it is disgraceful that the Conservative Party are playing the party political card when the focus should be on this very serious issue.”

Barbara Peacock, executive director of people, said: “We accept the findings of this report and are committed to making sure that we provide better support for our children and young people. I’m sorry that our services have not been good enough.

“The report has shown the extent of work that is needed. Much of this work is already under way but we recognise there is a lot more to do and we are working with Ofsted to create an improvement plan to drive through those changes.

“So that we and residents can feel reassured about the safety of all the young people we are involved with we are reviewing cases and are taking immediate action where we do find issues to address.”

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