Haringey MP Lynne Featherstone has attacked the government-backed decision to bring in a leading children’s services director to support the council in the wake of the Baby P case.
Featherstone, the Liberal Democrat MP for Hornsey & Wood Green, said “it was completely unacceptable” to assign Hampshire Council director John Coughlan to support senior managers in Haringey’s children’s services department, including director Sharon Shoesmith.
She added: “This is a stark admission that the top brass running children’s services in Haringey are not up to the job. Our children’s service cannot wait for these people to be mentored. They must go.”
Featherstone and her Liberal Democrat colleagues on the Labour-run council have been at the forefront of calls for heads to roll, including those of leader George Meehan and lead councillor for children’s services Liz Santry.
Children’s secretary Ed Balls said the decision to bring in Coughlan followed talks between officials from the Department for Children, Schools and Families and Haringey Council.
Balls said Coughlan’s role would be to “ensure that proper procedures for safeguarding children are in place and are being properly applied” during the joint area review of safeguarding in Haringey, also announced yesterday.
Joint area review
Balls has asked Ofsted, the Healthcare Commission and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary to carry out the review and report back to him by 1 December.
Ofsted confirmed today that the review would be led and carried out by officials with specialist expertise in child protection, as requested by Balls.
Meanwhile, Haringey said it would commission an independent review into the actions of staff in the Baby P case and oversight by councillors of child protection in the north London borough.
Santry said: “We recognise that the people of Haringey must have full confidence in the support we provide to those who cannot support themselves.”
She pointed to actions the council had already taken. These included a check on all children with a child protection plan, an independent audit of child protection processes and additional staff training.
An independent review to ensure all the recommendations of Lord Laming’s 2003 report into the murder of Victoria Climbié, who was also the responsibility of Haringey, has also taken place.