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Sandwell children's services director suspended ahead of Ofsted report
SENIOR Sandwell Council boss has been suspended after a damning Ofsted inspection at its beleaguered children’s services department.
Director Helen Smith has been relieved of her duties ahead of the report into care management being published and council sources believe cabinet member for children's services Councillor Bob Badham will also lose his job.
A council insider said: “The Ofsted report will be terrible news for the council, especially as we were led to believe the department had turned the corner.
If the report is as bad as everyone is expecting, and it must be if the director has been suspended, then Cllr Badham’s position is untenable.
“He is a dead man walking, after all as a council if we cannot look after vulnerable children, what can we do?"
Langley Independent Socialist Cllr Mick Davies, who consistently raised concerns about the children’s department, is demanding heads roll.
Hesaid: “This is proof of the complete incompetence of Sandwell Labour Council in relation to running children’s services.
"I have been asking questions foroverayearabout thisand even met Cllr Badham and the chief executive and was told things were improving – obviously they are not.
“Again no politicians have accepted responsibility for this but no doubt will blame everyone but themselves.”
He added: “This is not just about Cllr Badham but the whole of the cabinet who have been aware of this situation and done nothing. What has the member for service improvement Cllr Mahboob Hussain been doing during this mess?
"At the end of the day final responsibility rests with the leader of the council, Cllr Darren Cooper.
“If they had any shame at all they would resign immediately but no doubt they will blame officers, social workers and the Government.“ Cllr Davies said: “They should remember who appointed these officers in the first place. I shall be contacting Ofsted and be asking for an inquiry.”
Service director for children and families Helen Smith took charge in May 2011, a year after Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission published a highly critical report into safeguarding and looked-after children services and gave a notice to improve.
Depending on what the forthcoming Ofsted report contains, Government officials could directly take control of the department.
In November 2012, the council announced a 30-month £1.5 million partnership with private company Impower to improve the efficiency of the under-fire department, which has responsibility for schools and vulnerable children in care.
Sandwell Council chief executive Jan Britton said: “A director of the council has been suspended. Suspension is a neutral act which does not imply wrongdoing.
"We cannot make any further comment at this stage.”