Council accused of ‘abdicating’ duty over Ofsted’s findings amid cash row

Shot of a school psychologist explaining something to a little boy

Shot of a school psychologist explaining something to a little boy - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A lack of funding leaves North Somerset Council at risk of ‘abdicating’ its responsibility to children, a panel has claimed.

Cllr Don Davies.

Cllr Don Davies. - Credit: Archant

Ofsted rated the area’s independent safeguarding children board ‘inadequate’ in 2017 but it has undertaken all but one of the recommended steps.

A business manager has been sought, but while funding has been secured from Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, the police and council did not follow suit.

Cllr Donald Davies told the children and young people scrutiny panel on January 24: “Ofsted has asked us to do these things to protect our children – what are we doing about it?

“Part of the recommendation from Ofsted was to appoint a business manager. We should express our grave disappointment.”

Cllr Mike Bell went further saying the council was ‘abdicating’ its responsibility.

He said: “We’re delivering a poorer service to children and young people in our area, and aren’t complying with the clear recommendation of the Ofsted inspection. It’s just not being taken seriously.”

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Children’s support and safeguarding manager Eifion Price said the council’s decision not to contribute had come from ‘the highest level’.

He added: “The council is by far the largest contributor to the cost of running and monitoring the board.

“There was the feeling other agencies are contributing more to neighbouring wards than they do to North Somerset Council.

“The decision was made if other agencies weren’t prepared to put a share in then North Somerset Council wouldn’t either.

“We wouldn’t bear a disproportionate amount of the cost.”

A council spokesman said the authority pays more than half the £76,000 running cost.

They added: “There is no evidence to suggest that children and families have been placed at a disadvantage as a result.”

Ofsted will return to inspect children’s services and changes need to be agreed on by June.

Committee chairman Ann Harley said: “We need to highlight our concern to shake up the people who haven’t contributed.”

Avon and Somerset Constabulary was approached for comment but did not reply before the print deadline.