Cambridgeshire

Peterborough children's services boss resigns after report

The director of children's services at Peterborough City Council has resigned over a highly critical report on the department.

John Richards has left his post with immediate effect following the Ofsted inspection into the protection of children in the city.

It found the service was inadequate and called for urgent improvements.

Adrian Loades, Cambridgeshire County Council's director of children's services, will take over temporarily.

He has been seconded for an initial period of three months to lead diagnosis and improvement work.

'Take accountability'

Beyond that period, the city council said it had already identified a "well-respected and experienced individual" for the role and was preparing to appoint him.

A city council statement said Mr Richards had been responsible for a wide range of services, most of which were run successfully.

"However, he accepts that the first point of contact for people in the safeguarding service (referral and assessment) is one of the most important areas within his remit and, given the findings of Ofsted, he believes that as director he needs to take accountability for this," it added.

Ofsted assessed the department in nine categories, finding it inadequate in seven of them, adequate in one and good in another.

It found serious deficiencies in the social care fieldwork service, resulting in too many children and young people being left without sufficient safeguards or adequate protection arrangements.

Staffing capacity was found to be insufficient and an electronic recording system was not fit for purpose.

The council said it had already taken swift action to improve the service.

'Highly experienced'

Sheila Scott, cabinet member for children's services, said: "We became aware of this situation while the inspectors were still with us and I ordered immediate action from officers to address the issues without delay.

"The chief executive stepped in straight away and took control of the situation. We are bringing in a highly experienced team to focus on making changes and improving processes.

"We expect to be re-inspected in 18 months and I can assure you we are working to ensure these services are put right well in advance of this time."

Stewart Jackson, Conservative MP for Peterborough, said: "For one person to have oversight of both schools and social services was a hell of a job."

The new report follows a critical report last year by the Care Quality Commission and Ofsted which rated three key areas of children's services as "inadequate".

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