STATEMENT FROM MIKE RIGBY, leader of the Independents Group, Somerset County Council.

After two years of failings, today’s OFSTED report highlighting continuing widespread and serious failures in Somerset’s Children’s Services give me major cause for concern. These are the services designed to protect the most vulnerable children in our communities and it doesn’t seem as though this administration is capable of bringing the service up to an acceptable level. The report does praise the hard work of social workers but criticises leadership of the service. We again have to question the decision to spend £1m on Peter Lewis and Kate Lovell, given that no real progress was made under their interim leadership. Since then we’ve had another interim director before last week’s appointment of a permanent director. While we have not yet seen what Mr Wooster is capable of, how much longer can we wait before the political leadership acts decisively to improve matters?

The slide in performance began under now Leader John Osman when he was Cabinet Member for Children’s Services. For the good of the most vulnerable children in Somerset, John now needs to consider his position. Frances Nicholson, the current Cabinet Member for Children’s Services must follow Councillor Huxtable’s example, do the honourable thing and resign immediately. It is clear that she is not capable of directing the required changes to ensure that children are properly protected from harm. END

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