PEOPLE should be held to account following a review of Somerset County Council’s child protection plans which found more than a third were inadequate, it has been claimed.
Government inspectors ordered a review of 453 child protection plans after the council was given the lowest rating for its child protection work by Ofsted in July last year and, of those plans audited, 170 were inadequate and 250 found to be adequate or above.
Following the report, former county councillor Justin Downes, 63, claimed both Cllr Frances Nicholson, cabinet member for children’s services, and chairman Cllr David Fothergill should resign.
Mr Downes said: “She (Cllr Nicholson) should resign or at least be relieved of her responsibility until the matter in the department which she is in charge of has been sorted out – she should certainly not be managing it.”
The plans are made for the most vulnerable children in society and those identified as being at risk of harm.
The council said all inadequate cases will be re-audited to make sure recommendations for these children have been complied with.
Council leader John Osman, speaking on behalf of Cllr Nicholson, said: “Frances has taken on a very challenging role and is bringing about a steady improvement.
“We are all working hard to turn this area around and Ofsted acknowledged we have the right people in the right place to do that.”
Cllr Fothergill added: “Should I personally feel that I have done something which doesn’t best serve the communities I represent I would have absolutely no hesitation to resign.”
In November, the Department for Communities and Local Government gave the council a target of 75% of cases being judged adequate or better.
The review found 170 (37.5%) child protection plans were inadequate, 190 cases (41.9%) were adequate, 58 (12.8%) were good, two cases (0.4%) were outstanding and 33 cases (7.2%) were ungraded.
A spokesman for Somerset County Council said: “Things have got better but we are far from complacent. We understand there is still a long way to go before we reach the standards we set for ourselves.”
Cllr Justine Baker, shadow cabinet for children and families, added: “As a parent of two young children I find this report personally shocking; no child should have care that is just ‘ adequate’, let alone inadequate.
“We are talking about ‘at risk’ children – those most vulnerable who we as a local authority are responsible for. I can only hope that things improve extremely quickly.”