So – the report finds Haringey Council guilty – and then some. I have never seen such a damning and devastating criticism of an authority as this litany of failure – both systemic and personal, and at every level and more or less in every agency. But particularly singled out for special damnation – Haringey Council.
So – given all that, what an earth is Ed Balls doing commissioning more reports and waiting until next June before removing Haringey Children’s services from council administration? Yes more information may be necessary. Yes – Balls is right to put in John Coughlan to lead the department back to health. But we need children in Haringey who are at risk to be held safe in full special measures and only given back to Haringey itself as the department is changed, new management structures put in, and staff either re-trained, sacked or exonerated depending on their part and culpability.
When and as Haringey proves itself worthy of taking control of Children’s Services – then and only then – should they get the department back. They have to prove themselves first.
As to the resignations of George Meehan and Liz Santry – it’s a shame it took until they publicly had nowhere to go in the face of such extreme criticism before they finally acknowledged their responsibility.
And none of this sadly goes to the heart of the rotten culture in Haringey which is secretive, arrogant, rank-closing and abuses power. Lord knows I have been shouting this from rooftops for long enough. Now at least I have Ed Balls and the Government shouting the same thing with me!
Lynne, one job well done for which I think we all can give you a great deal of credit. But how we ensure that all LAs operate to high quality standards of personal performance, without that ‘rotten culture’ that you describe, remains beyond us? Paying groups of Councillors higher allowances so that they become effectively full time executives doesn’t make it happen. We lack enough competent people prepared to go the long road of volunteer effort and then the newby Elected Member stage (which in some Councils makes them powerless recipients of grumbles against the Council) before reaching the top. But the even worse problem is that we don’t know how to ensure that the senior officers are competent to do the work well enough to minimise the grumbles. (Note that doing the work includes making a proposal for making radical change if there are not enough resources – an ambulance trust recently sacked its boss because the ambulances were missing their time to incident targets, and the new boss then simply worked out that there were not enough staff, not enough ambulances, and the hospitals didn’t have the capacity needed so ambulances were queueing outside – now he has been given more money, but what is to be done about the hospitals I don’t know.) Its about good management…
Well done, Ms F.What is really sad about all this is the necessity for such an apparatus in any local authority. Has our society really become so fragmented that people can get away with such crimes for so long?Of course it has. We are so alienated, so disenfranchised, so isolated by what is perceived as a remote and arrogant political class – aided of course by the public sector as a whole – that we prefer to shut our front doors and mind our own business. It was not always thus: no such case would have been possible in the working class street in which my mother was born, simply because people took an interest in their neighbours. They did this because they had to. There was no welfare state.Like all socialist constructs, the welfare state reads like a great idea on paper. In practice, it leads inevitably to lack of self esteem, then moral corrosion and ultimate breakdown.It is too late to go back and undo the damage done by Atlee’s government; but thought should be given to the way welfare is administered, for I believe it too is one of the culprits in this sorry affair.
I hope you put Ita O’Donovan’s role under close scrutiny, as it looks that a previous (anonymous) comment on your blog about her record in Stoke was right: just after she left Stoke, its children’s services were heavily criticised.