Sheila stay­ing put for now

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Uk&world Update - By ADAM UREN adam.uren@pe­ter­bor­oughto­day.co.uk @ETADAMU

THE cab­i­net mem­ber for the city’s trou­bled chil­dren’s ser­vices depart­ment has re­sponded to calls for her res­ig­na­tion by say­ing she will con­sider her po­si­tion over the next 18 months.

Un­der pres­sure coun­cil­lor Sheila Scott was called on to step down from her cab­i­net post by In­de­pen­dent coun­cil­lor Michael Fletcher yes­ter­day, af­ter she ap­peared flus­tered when ques­tioned about Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil’s child poverty plan in a ra­dio in­ter­view on Tues­day.

The Or­ton with Hamp­ton coun­cil­lor was in­ter­viewed af­ter char­ity 4Chil­dren crit­i­cised a num­ber of lo­cal au­thor­i­ties na­tion­wide for not hav­ing in place a child poverty plan, with Cllr Scott un­sure as to what stage her depart­ment’s plan is at.

It comes af­ter a tu­mul­tuous year for Cllr Scott, who saw chil­dren’s ser­vices lam­basted by Of­sted last Septem­ber af­ter it was found to be “in­ad­e­quate” in seven out of nine child safe­guard­ing cat­e­gories, prompt­ing the res­ig­na­tion of then chil­dren’s ser­vices di­rec­tor John Richards.

Since then, con­sul­tant di­rec­tor Mal­colm Newsam has been brought in and im­prove­ments are be­ing made.

But in re­sponse to the calls for her res­ig­na­tion, Cllr Scott said she would con­sider her op­tions once she was sat­is­fied chil­dren’s ser­vices was on an even keel.

She said: “It would be re­ally desta­bi­liz­ing at this stage ob­vi­ously to step down as chil­dren’s ser­vices is very com­plex, but when we have got that re­cov­ery done then I will look at my po­si­tion.

“I have said from the very be­gin­ning that this is not a job that could be done quickly, it’s a min­i­mum of an 18-month job as it’s not just about mak­ing the changes, it’s about mak­ing sure they are em­bed­ded in the ser­vice.

“I think that what­ever hap­pens we have an im­por­tant pro­gramme of work to bring chil­dren’s so­cial care up to an ac­cept­able level and we have made a good start.”

Coun­cil leader Marco Cer­este is ex­pected to an­nounce his cab­i­net re-shuf­fle in the next week, af­ter the Con­ser­va­tives re­gained con­trol in last week’s elec­tions.

Cllr Scott’s cab­i­net fu­ture does de­pend on the out­come of that re-shuf­fle, but Cllr Cer­este said he would not dis­cuss the ne­go­ti­a­tions at this stage.

Mr Richards re­signed from his £135,000-a-year post af­ter the pub­li­ca­tion of the Of­sted re­port on chil­dren’s ser­vices, with Cllr Scott say­ing at the time that she and other mem­bers of the coun­cil had been kept in the dark about the depart­ment’s per­for­mance.

Cllr Scott, speak­ing yes­ter­day, said: “Pre­vi­ously I knew that things were not quite right but I am not an op­er­a­tional per­son, I am a cab­i­net mem­ber, that’s what the di­rec­tor of chil­dren’s ser­vices is there for. Of course I am pleased with the progress we are mak­ing now.

“It was a bit of a roller­coaster, one month seemed to be bet­ter but the next month per­for­mance was back down again.”

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