Children’s services in Rotherham are still not good enough, Rotherham Council’s leader admitted amid calls for his resignation in a BBC Radio Sheffield debate.
Coun Paul Lakin, speaking during the Rotherham: What Next? debate to be broadcast on BBC Radio Sheffield on Wednesday mornign at 9am, said the focus must be on ‘rebuilding ourselves as a town’.
During his speech, he was interrupted by a member of the audience who shouted: “I don’t understand why he’s the leader, it’s like the pied piper running the council. It’s disgusting. What hope have kids got?. He’s turned the lights out for kids’ futures in Rotherham, that’s what he’s done.”
Chairing the debate, Toby Foster said: “There is a view in the audience, you were the leader of children’s services, it has been shown in an Ofsted report to be failing under your leadership, the lady here who isn’t on microphone so we can’t hear her shouting to stand down as leader of the council - she won’t be the only voice.”
Coun Lakin replied: “If you look at the Ofsted report, the Ofsted report makes it quite clear where the failings of children’s services are.
“Anybody who reads that report will read there has been a lack of management grip within that service.
“That Ofsted report actually makes it clear that as the lead member for children’s services, I took the information that was given to me, I considered that carefully and I challenged it appropriately.”
Mr Foster then read a quote from the Ofsted report into children’s services in Rotherham which was published last week.
It said: “Leaders have not been able to demonstrate sufficient understanding of failures and have been ineffective in prioritising, challenging and making improvements.”
Coun Lakin replied: “Yes but what it also says is that managers did not give and support elected members in that role well enough, because the systems we’ve got in place are not good enough to give us the information that we require.”
“And are they now?,” he is asked.
“They are not now but that’s why we’re putting more managers in place to get a management grip of the service. We need to do that because management oversight is one of the things mentioned in the report.”
Rotherham: What Next will be broadcast on BBC Radio Sheffield on Wednesday November 26 at 9am.