Children’s services chief to keep post
COUNCIL leader Marco Cereste refused to bow to public pressure and replace councillor Sheila Scott as cabinet member for children’s services.
Cllr Scott’s tenure in the department has seen two “inadequate” Ofsted reports in the last two years and was more recently criticised for its failure to act sooner in the tragic case of murdered tot Tyler Whelan.
Despite mounting pressure to take the opportunity to remove Cllr Scott from her portfolio as he announced his cabinet changes for the forthcoming year, a decision which was greeted with groans from the public gallery at the Peterborough City Council Annual Meeting.
Cllr Cereste said that he wanted Cllr Scott to continue overseeing the recent improvements made following September’s scathing Ofsted report, which found the council to be failing in seven out of nine safeguarding categories.
He said: “I am not going to change a cabinet member who has seen what the problem was and taken steps to change it.
“I’m not going to respond to political mischief, any decision I make is based on what is known to me. I believe Sheila Scott will deliver what is needed in the best interests of our children.”
Cllr Scott, speaking after the meeting, said she was “touched” at Cllr Cereste’s support.
She said: “I’m extremely touched in the heart, it means a great deal to me. I’ve always said the recovery of the department was an 18-month project and I’m certain at this moment it’s important to have consistency.”
Labour councillor Nazim Khan and Liberal Democrat Nick Sandford were shocked at the decision to retain Cllr Scott, with Cllr Khan saying Cllr Cereste was “rewarding failure on a tremendous scale”.
Cllr Sandford said: “As I’m not an expert in children’s social care I cannot say whether this is a question of competence, but given that we were told on several occasions by Cllr Scott that things were fine, I think this is a question of credibility.”
Outside of children’s services, Cllr Cereste delegated himself more powers on the cabinet.
With Samantha Dalton not standing for election this year, the leader took on her environment capital responsibilities, adding to the strategic growth responsibilities he took on last year from Cllr Gavin Elsey.
Cllr Khan said the leader has missed the opportunity to bring in some new blood, while Cllr Sandford said there are too many
ROLES: Deputy Mayor June Stokes and Mayor George Simons cabinet members for a city of Peterborough’s size.
Cllr Elsey does however return to the cabinet this year as an adviser to Matthew Lee, while Cllr Nigel North will act as an adviser to Cllr Cereste.
There were no changes elsewhere, with all other cabinet members and one adviser retaining their roles.