In a brutal condemnation by Ofsted of how Luton Borough Council runs its children’s services, the council was left to grovel an apology by children’s portfolio holder, Councillor Mahmood Hussain, while the Council Leader Hazel Simmons stayed behind closed doors.
The report – which gave the council its lowest possible rating – described children’s services as inadequate and stated that: “some children are left in unassessed or in harmful situations for too long”.
Councillor David Franks said: “The Labour councillors in charge of this vital service have no right to be surprised at the judgement Ofsted has handed down”.
“Far from improving following the 2017 recommendations, they have allowed the situation to get worse. The Ofsted report says some services for children have declined since the last inspection.”
An NSPCC spokesman stated in local newspaper reports: “It is disappointing to see Ofsted’s report which highlights the council’s slow progress in dealing with the watchdog’s previous concerns and it is clear that further work is swiftly needed”.
“It is vital that the safety and wellbeing of children in Luton is an absolute priority and that those young people at risk receive the right help and support to protect them from harm”
It was also reported that Luton Council has 64 agency social workers employed currently in the town who don’t have a contract with the council.
While there has been a decline in council social workers the council has lent its airport company hundreds of millions of pounds – money it has had to borrow itself. Moreover, rather than pumping money into social services, the Council is looking at ways to directly fund a Terminal 2 Access road costed at around £124 million. In reports seen by STOPSLAE the Council has admitted that council services will have to be further cut to fund this folly.
We would argue that the council needs to sort out its spending priorities and start putting people and particularly vulnerable children first rather than creating white elephants, in a year that has seen aviation at Luton decimated.