Nick Fogg demands immediate action to solve Wiltshire’s child care scandal
Not good enough. That is the conclusion of Nick Fogg (pictured) to urgent questions he raised on Tuesday over a damning Ofsted report which found “serious and significant shortcomings” in Wiltshire Council’s care for vulnerable children.
Mr Fogg, one of Marlborough’s two Wiltshire councillors, failed to receive satisfactory detailed answers to three questions he posed on the report Ofsted issued following a two-week inspection held in March.
Ofsted revealed that there were problems in 17 of the 92 child protection cases it had examined at random, declaring that some children were “inadequately protected and exposed to potential and on-going harm” because of management failures.
And what angered Mr Fogg in the wake of the latest cases of sexual abuse of children in Rochdale was that Councillor Lionel Grundy, the cabinet member for children’s services, told him it would take “two or three years to put the matter right.”
“I find that quite astonishing,” protested Mr Fogg, whose surprise and shock over the original Ofsted report prompted him to raise the issue. “The situation should be put right immediately.”
“His answers were not good enough. The whole situation is pretty unsatisfactory when you are dealing with these most vulnerable children. They are the responsibility of the care of the community.”
“Everything should be throw at this issue so that is sorted as soon as possible. So I shall ensure that regular progress reports are given to the council. It is obvious that I need to keep a watchful eye on the whole subject.”
The urgency of the matter follows the fact that Ofsted made unannounced inspections in 2010 and 2012 and pointed out the need for improvements to the service.
And though this year’s visit by five Ofsted inspectors plus another from the Care Quality Commission had been arranged in advance, they still found the service seriously wanting.
Mr Grundy, in reply to Mr Fogg, revealed that a multi-agency Safeguarding Improvement Board has been established and “is responsible for monitoring progress and over-seeing the delivery and evidence of improvement.”
He said that “immediate and appropriate action” had been taken “to ensure the children and young people identified were re-assessed and appropriately protected” with a detailed improvement plan put in place.
And he added: “The Department of Education has confirmed that our actions to date have been timely and appropriate and the inspectors stated that the council is committed within challenging budget reductions to protecting its front line services.”
But Mr Fogg insisted that Mr Grundy had totally failed to answer his initial question as to the identify of those responsible for the failures condemned by Ofsted given that various agencies were involved.
He fears there may be “personality clashes” within the management system, the more so as Mr Grundy was unable to answer allegations made by one care worker that key staff were not invited to vital assessment meetings.
“I could understand that he couldn’t go into too much detail, but on the other hand he didn’t provide any detail at all,” added Mr Fogg. “And that was unacceptable.”