The councillor responsible for Peterborough City Council’s children’s services says that “significant steps” have been taken to improve the department.
Veteran Councillor Shelia Scott, who is the council’s cabinet member for children’s services, has moved to reassure residents about the quality of the service following the jailing of a mum for neglect of her three children.
Cllr Scott accepted Judge Sean Enright’s criticism but stressed the case related to a time when Ofsted had only recently identified “significant issues” in the department.
She said: “We were just beginning that journey, which we are still on, of improving practice.”
“We have taken significant steps to mitigate such a thing happening again.”
When the Peterborough Telegraph first contacted Cllr Scott following the court sentencing on Tuesday, she said she did not know about the case, expressing her surprise.
But after requesting the opportunity to “check this out first”, later clarified she meant she was unaware that court proceedings had concluded, rather than being unaware of the family itself.
Cllr Scott, who was elected to the council eight years ago, said she became aware of the case shortly before Christmas.
She said her political role related to facilitating the work of the department, rather than having an awareness of each case.
She said: “I don’t know the details of the many, many families we are working with at any one time.”
“My role is to make sure that the tools are in place for social workers to be able to deliver good practice.
“I have responsibility for the strategic direction of the department and providing support for officers and individual social workers.”
After having survived a vote of no confidence in July following the Tyler Whelan case by a margin of 31 councillors to 24, fresh calls have now been made for her to relinquish the post following this court case.
Opposition member for Ravensthorpe Cllr Ed Murphy said: “The director should ensure the cabinet member knows of every single case and if I was in that position I would ensure I knew.”
He added: “She should not be there.”
Cllr Scott said she wanted to continue in the position at least until the conclusion of the two-year improvement programme.
“We’re in the middle of this programme and the department needs stability.”
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