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Lib Dems call on County Council leader to resign

August 15, 2008 7:33 PM
Diana Smith speaking at County Hall

County Councillor Diana Smith drew attention to some of the the many failings of the Tory administration revealed by the Ofsted report.

Following the damning Ofsted review of Surrey County Council's services for vulnerable children (see the previous news item) the Lib Dem group of councillors have called on the Tory Leader of the Council to resign.

One of the key issues highlighted was the inadequate provision of Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks - a national requirement for anyone working with children and young people. The report stated: "Although the council state in their self-assessment that all staff are robustly CRB checked, this information is false, with high numbers of staff identified by the human resources database as either not having had CRB checks or three yearly re-checks."

In addition it was found that too many children with learning difficulties and/or disabilities are excluded from school. In 2006, in mainstream secondary schools, nearly half the children with statements of Special Educational Needs had fixed term exclusions.

Liberal Democrats have consistently campaigned for more services to support families and keep children from needing to be brought into care; for more effective recruitment and retention of key staff; and to ensure that schools are helped to keep children with Special Educational Needs in school. But it has taken a Government Inspection to bring out the lack of CRB checks, the failure to respond to children's needs early enough in the care process, and the failure to keep proper records.

The Inspectors also reported that the Tories' 2006 Business Delivery Review harmed important service developments in children's social care.

The Lib Dem Group Leader, County Councillor Hazel Watson, said "Many of the underlying problems highlighted in the report such as lack of respite care, too much reliance on agency staff and a limited range of preventative services, have been known for years. Yet the Conservative administration had failed to act and even the Executive's action plan in response to this highly critical report is vague and woolly".

"Liberal Democrats agree with the Inspectors that the council's leadership demonstrates a belated and incomplete response to some critical county-wide challenges. We can have no confidence in this Tory administration. It is a shame that Nick Skellett, the Conservative Leader of Surrey County Council throughout the period leading up to this report, has not resigned."

"Given that this is an Executive-run council, the Executive must be held responsible for these failures. The ultimate responsibility must rest with the Leader of the Council and that's why we have called on him to do the honourable thing and resign."