Conservative Chair of Barnet's Children's Services committee, Cllr Reuben Thompstone, was saved from a vote of no confidence by the casting vote of the Mayor at last night's Full Council meeting (25 July).
Labour councillors called for Cllr Thompstone to resign following the damning OFSTED rating of Children's Services as 'inadequate', and moved the vote of no confidence during the debate on the inspection report.
Thirty one councillors voted for Cllr Thompstone to be replaced (30 Labour and 1 Lib Dem), with 31 Conservative councillors voting for him to remain and one Conservative councillor absent. The deadlock was overcome when the Mayor used his casting vote to save Cllr Thompstone.
In her speech at the meeting Labour's Children, Education, Libraries & Safeguarding Spokesperson, Cllr Pauline Coakley Webb said: "Apologies are fine but that doesn't get to the root of how we got to this situation in the first place. Or what drove children's services to this precipice.
"If I had been lead member and such a catastrophic rating had been handed down on my watch I would have immediately offered my resignation. Has the lead member offered his resignation, not to my knowledge.
"Remember that officers carry out the instructions of the administration and the lead member. You have to go back to 2014 when the drive to cut costs in children's services resulted in a swathe of middle management being removed, staff leaving, and 38% of posts being vacant. This huge drop in permanent staff resulted in a huge loss of expertise and continuity, the additional cost of expensive and temporary agency staff, and a hugely increased workload for those remaining social workers.
"It was Labour members who raised concerns and asked for a referral to the Children's, Education, Libraries & Safeguarding Committee.
"Had more serious incidents occurred would the lead member still be in post? I think not. Responsibility must be taken for the policies that led to this situation and that should start with the resignation of the lead member under whose watch these serious failings occurred."
1. A copy of the Labour motion of no confidence can be found here:
2. For more on this from Barnet Labour see:
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