MP to give evidence to council inquiry into deterioration of children’s services

Coun Craig Whittaker.
Coun Craig Whittaker.

MP Craig Whittaker will give evidence to the council inquiry into children’s safeguarding services.

It was on his watch three years ago that services began to seriously deteriorate and since he became an MP in May 2010 they have barely improved.

Councillors want to know what went wrong and why Calderdale Council is still struggling to comply with an official Notice to Improve.

In response to inquiry chairman Colin Raistrick’s invitation, the Calder Valley Conservative MP said he would be pleased to help “get to the bottom of the continuing debacle.

“I can’t of course give any insight into the current poor state nor explain why the current regime has failed to progress the improvement plan but I would be willing to give you some background information from two years ago which, without question, will set the scene and explain the plans that were put in place to take Calderdale out of special measures within a year.”

Mr Whittaker was for some time the council’s cabinet member with special responsibility for children and young people’s services.

In October 2009 he commissioned a report about the standard of those services and said improvements needed to be made sooner rather than later.

“There can be no excuse for poor performance, particularly where the safety and welfare of vulnerable children is concerned.”

He was criticised for not acting quicker when the report came out in February 2010 but denied he had control over the day to day running of the failing department.

However, guidelines dictate that the person in that post should provide “a clear and unambiguous top line of accountability for children’s wellbeing.”

The council inquiry team includes councillors from all political parties and is due to gather evidence in private.