BCC saving their own skins

Wycombe Labour today called for the resignation of the Tory Leader of Bucks County Council as Red Quadrant, advisors to the Secretary of State for Education, said “key politicians” at BCC cared more about the Council’s tarnished reputation than they did about safeguarding Bucks children. 

Red Quadrant was appointed by the Secretary of State for Education to advise her on the adequacy of Children’s Service in BCC after a highly critical report by OFSTED.   
David Williams, Wycombe Labour’s Parliamentary candidate, said “Red Quadrant is scathing about Bucks County Council.   
 It is now 9 months since OFSTED assessed BCC’s Children’s Services as inadequate and Red Quadrant says BCC is still below the required standard.   Red Quadrant slates BCC for its slowness in getting its Children’s Services up to an adequate standard and criticises BCC for its failure “at the highest corporate level” to own and drive through the necessary changes.   
Red Quadrant says progress was slow because “key politicians” cared more about the Council’s tarnished reputation than they did about safeguarding Bucks children.    
 These key politicians got “distracted” in trying to defend the Council rather than concentrating on improving care and safeguarding for disabled, ill, neglected and abused children.     
Red Quadrant concludes that the Chief Executive and some Councillors were aware, at least from last January, that Children’s Services was struggling to operate at an effective level and children were at risk.  But BCC failed to address the problems quickly enough and even after the OFSTED report, BCC needed “prompting by external intervention”.   
Red Quadrant also criticises BCC’s scrutiny of its Children’s Services as not robust enough.  

Wycombe Labour has repeatedly criticised BCC for its lack of scrutiny, and in particular the Select Committee on Education and Children’s Services which is more concerned with being nice to colleagues than getting answers.   
We now know from independent, external advisors to the Secretary of State that Bucks County Council is more concerned with saving its own skin than safeguarding vulnerable children.   
We should not forget that we are talking here about children’s safety and their lives. 

In 2003 Lord Laming reported on the death of Victoria Climbie who was tortured and murdered by her carers. Failings in social services were identified as contributing to Victoria’s death. Lord Laming made recommendations to rectify those shortcomings and to seek to ensure children were adequately protected. In 2009 after Baby P (Peter Connelly)
was beaten to death, Lord Laming provided a further report which again identified social services failings as contributing to his death.  

We have seen the same thing in Rotherham - deficiencies in Children’s Services putting children at risk.   

The OFSTED Report on Bucks Children’s Services identified many of these issues in relation to child protection in Bucks  – 11 years on from the Climbie Report and 5 years on from Baby P. Nationally around 1 child a week is killed by their carers and poor social services performance is a feature in many; thank goodness that did not happen to a child in Bucks as a result of budgetary restraint. 

How much longer will Tory politicians sit back and let children in Bucks remain at risk?  What does it take to get BCC to take ownership of the problems and drive improvements through urgently?   When is BCC going to think of the children rather than covering their own backsides?”

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