Council leader responds to "grave concerns"

First published in News

Pembrokeshire County Council’s leader has set out how he plans to tackle the Welsh Government’s “grave concerns”

about the state of the authority’s child safeguarding service.

In a nine page letter, Cllr Jamie Adams says that the authority is making good progress, but accepts there is still more to do to address the issues highlighted by ministers.

Last week, the Western Telegraph reported how ministers had threatened to take over safeguarding services due to “a continued failure to address safeguarding issues”.

In the letter to Education Minister, Leighton Andrews, and the Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services, Gwenda Thomas, Cllr Adams said the council had the right “building blocks” in place.

He added: “Already I have observed a change in the authority’s culture, the strengthening of many of our safeguarding policies and procedures and a change in the approach of our senior officers.”

Cllr Adams also responds to specific criticisms levelled at the authority and sets out progress that has been made.

Among the improvements he lists are: Strengthening Human Resources procedures and tightening checking and vetting procedures; moves to strengthen challenge by elected members; improvements to the council’s whistle-blowing policy; additional capacity to investigate allegations; and improved performance of the Pupil Referral Unit in Neyland.

His letter also states that a disciplinary investigation concerning the use of the former time-out room at the Pupil Referral Unit at Neyland is in progress and, in his opinion, would have been appropriate in 2009.

Cllr Adams states: “I have been quoted on a number of occasions as describing this process of improvement as a journey.

“We have not yet reached our final destination, but I trust that the evidence provided in this letter demonstrates that we are making good progress. I am confident that, with your continued support, we will get to where we need to be.

“I have given you my personal assurance that I am prepared to demonstrate strong leadership and take tough decisions where it is necessary to do so.

“I give you my further commitment that this authority will do everything that could be expected of it to keep children in Pembrokeshire safe.”

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “Ministers have raised serious concerns about the situation in Pembrokeshire. We have now received their response to our letter which we are considering.

“The prime and overarching concern of the Welsh Government throughout all of this remains the safeguarding of children in Pembrokeshire. This is absolutely paramount.”

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