Chil­dren’s ser­vices chief to keep post

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

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.

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