The day of reckoning when finally George Meehan paid the price for not listening, not heeding and not doing the job he promised to do after Victoria Climbie. I remember the breast-beating Council meeting back then – ‘this will never happen again’, ‘lessons must be learnt’ and ‘I personally will sit on the child protection committee’. Though no-one senior took responsibility and resigned.
Mr Meehan’s departure this time is, however, just one drop in this dreadful ocean. Liz Santry has gone because her position put her in the legally accountable position. But neither went until the depth of the failings in Haringey were blazed across the country as Ed Balls read his statement – ending the hopes they had of hanging on. There was nowhere to go once they knew the damnation contained in the Ofsted report.
But remember, only last Monday at Haringey’s Full Council meeting, every one of the Labour councillors backed George Meehan and Liz Santry – and that’s part of the problem too. And why I say that Labour in Haringey has lost sense of right and wrong. Over-politicised, each move only to ensure their political future. That is an issue that bears scrutiny too.
Anyway – in the cold light of the morning after the night before – I am thinking that Ed Balls lived up to his name – and did the necessary and did it well.
I might and do disagree with him on the degree of holding safely by an outside team and don’t understand why he is giving any sort of time lag before deciding next June whether to take the Children’s department away from Haringey. I think he would have been better to put it into full special measures and then give it back slowly as and when Haringey has proved itself changed.
And the other area of disagreement is around the need for a public inquiry – which I still believe is absolutely vital to get at all the issues, wider issues, virtually untouched by this short sharp investigation. This was right for the short term and the urgent situation – but in the longer term there are sheafs of unanswered questions. More of that later.
For now I just want to really pay tribute to the people of this country, whose outpouring of grief and anger stoked the fires, and to the media whose relentless pursuit through broadcast and press left no place to hide.
And to all those in the Commons who kept the spotlight on Baby P and forced the issue. Without this force majeure – Haringey’s Labour council would have bunkered down and simply hoped to let the storm pass – like last time – and then in a few years time we would have been here again wondering how it could happen three times in the same borough.