January 27, 2022 2.32 pm This story is over 29 months old

Vote of no confidence in councillor responsible for “catastrophic failure” of children’s services

Ofsted issued a damming report and the government is now investigating

The councillor responsible for children’s services at North East Lincolnshire Council is facing a vote of no confidence after Labour said his leadership led to “catastrophic failure”.

Councillor Ian Lindley, the portfolio holder for Children and Education, said the heavily-criticised services were already in severe decline when he took over, and he intends to continue leading them.

However, he warned turning them around could take up to three years.

Ofsted issued a damning report in November, saying ‘inadequate’ services had put children at risk.

Labour called for Councillor Lindley to step down from his post in a fraught meeting of North East Lincolnshire Council on Wednesday.

Party leader councillor Matthew Patrick said there couldn’t be change while he remained in charge.

Councillor Lindley claimed that Labour shared some of the blame, and that improvements were already being made.

A new children’s services oversight board is to be set up with the aim of rapidly turning them around.

The cross-party group would offer two spaces for Labour members and one Liberal Democrat, although it is unclear if Labour will take them up after voting against the proposal.

Councillor Matthew Patrick said: “No single issue has brought greater sadness to me than the Ofsted report. There is no service more important than those protecting vulnerable residents.

“This catastrophic failure calls for fresh leadership and a fresh direction.

“If I was the portfolio holder when this report came out, I would have offered an apology and resigned immediately. The current portfolio holder has not felt the need to do either.”

He also apologised on behalf of the council to anyone affected by the poor services, saying: “I’m sorry that we have let you down.”

A vote will be held at the next full council meeting in February.

Councillor Lindley accused the Labour leader of trying to score political points rather than fix the problems.

“I know how concerned and disappointed everyone is with the results of the Ofsted inspection,” he said.

“But if there was ever a time to show a united front, this is it. We know that in other local authorities facing similar challenges, cross party support has been essential in making the required progress at pace.

“It is disappointing to see a collective finger of blame being pointed at myself tonight.

“I would have much preferred seeing a united front, and a commitment to total cross party support for an improvement journey that is already well underway.”

He added: “There is no quick fix to our Children’s Services, and it is not unreasonable to expect an improvement journey of three years.”

Council leader Philip Jackson backed his team, and said they had been warned Ofsted already had serious concerns when they took over from the Labour administration.

A government commissioner has been appointed to look in the state of services.

He will report back to the government at the end of March on whether North East Lincolnshire will be temporarily removed from control of the borough’s child social care.