Assistant mayor 'did everything she could' amid children's services turmoil

Peter Soulsby
Image caption Leicester City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby has taken responsibility for children's services

Leicester's assistant mayor who was sacked following a "botched review" of children's services said she accepts full responsibility for what happened.

Vulnerable youngsters were left at risk after more than 30 children's social workers quit during the council review.

The disruption also caused "serious delays" in allocating up to 300 child care cases, the city's mayor said.

Vi Dempster, who stood down on Monday, said she did everything she could to alleviate the problem.

'Rapid spike'

Image copyright Leicester City Council
Image caption Ms Dempster said she had to take the responsibility

Leicester's mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said on Monday that "a botched review and inadequate leadership" resulted in a situation where children were potentially put at risk.

Ms Dempster was the councillor with overall responsibility for the department.

She told BBC Radio Leicester there was a "rapid spike" of staff departures in December and extra staff were recruited.

She said: "We did everything we could... this [social services] is an area of high turbulence.

"It was my responsibility to ensure the department had the necessary resources... Safeguarding is the biggest priority for the council and it should be.

"Ultimately, I was in charge and therefore I have to take the responsibility. I understand that."

Former head of department Elaine McHale was dismissed for her handling of the review.

An Ofsted report, due to be published next week, outlines serious failings over several months last year, the council said.

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