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Council issues apologies and promises swift action

 
Created on 19/10/2017 @ 20:51
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The Leader of Powys County Council has issued an apology following the release of the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) report which said children had been put at risk in the county.

Issuing the apology at yesterday’s full council meeting Councillor Rosemarie Harris said she accepted the report’s recommendations but said her Cabinet had been receiving reports that everything within the children’s services department was “fine”.

The CSSIW report, published on Tuesday, found evidence of missed opportunities to safeguard children and concluded a "lack of assessment, intervention and support, together with poor follow up and oversight, has and is placing children at considerable risk".

The council has been given 90 days to improve or face its social services being taken over by the Welsh Government.

Ms Harris, who took over as leader after local elections in May, told a full council meeting in Llandrindod Wells on Thursday that the new cabinet had not been made aware of any issues with children's services.

She said performance indicators were "all green", "showed no problem at all" and that "we were told everything was working fine".

The leader also confirmed an improvement board had already been formed and had held its first meeting, overseen by former Swansea council chief executive Jack Straw.

"I'm very sorry this has happened, and so early in the life of a new cabinet," Ms Harris said.

Chief executive Jeremy Patterson told the council meeting he had raised concerns with former leader Barry Thomas, the deputies and the former cabinet member for children's services several times in October and November last year.

Mr Patterson said he did not get "clarity" from the former leader which he said could have resulted in the issues being addressed sooner.

Liberal Democrat councillor James Gibson-Watt, leader of the opposition on the council, said Mr Patterson should "step aside, both from the internal investigation and from direct management of the improvement plan, to allow the interim director of social services and interim head of service to get on with the job".

"He's been too close to this and there are a lot of questions members want answered," Mr Gibson-Watt said. (centre) said she had been assured "everything w

Given 20 days to draw up a plan of action, Powys has published draft proposals which promise to listen to children, young people and their families and to prioritise making permanent appointments to key posts.

Rachel Powell, the cabinet member now responsible for children's services, told councillors: "We are absolutely committed to safeguarding children."

Councillors were also told that a review into adult social services may happen sooner than planned because of the concerns about children's social services.

Mr Patterson told Thursday's meeting: "The police will not be involved at this stage. This is not a police matter."

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