Sort it out!

Western Telegraph: Sort it out! Sort it out!

PEMBROKESHIRE County Council senior officers and councillors have been told to “get a grip, fast” after yet more stinging criticism of the way it handles vital child safeguarding issues.

The Welsh Government board parachuted in to improve safeguarding said it still has “grave concerns”

about the county council’s performance and is again threatening to step in to take over its duties.

In an extremely strongly worded written statement and a letter to council leader Jamie Adams, Welsh Government ministers have outlined a series of major concerns.

The letter from Education Minister Leighton Andrews and Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services Gwenda Thomas runs to six pages.

It says: “The Pembrokeshire Ministerial Board [the body the Welsh Government put in place following previous child safeguarding failures] inform us that progress in improving child safeguarding is still worryingly slow.

“The indications are that senior officers in the authority do not accept the need to change the authority’s approach to safeguarding.

“On occasions, chief officers appear either not to know what is happening in the authority’s schools or do know but then fail to disclose information appropriately (to the PMB or other officers or council members) or take appropriate action.

“On May 27, the PMB advised the Welsh ministers that in its view senior officers in the authority do not see the need for change in the culture and modes of operation which it has always followed.

On the contrary it wishes to see them preserved.”

The letter adds that the issues listed are a “very discouraging catalogue” and “it appears that there is an inability, or an unwillingness, on the part of senior officers of the authority to get to grips with the real problems”.

The ministers’ stinging criticism that any overt cooperation by senior officers is “generally little more than window dressing” is also included in the letter to Cllr Adams.

Commenting on the Welsh Government’s fierce criticism of child safety arrangements at Pembrokeshire Council, mid and west Wales AMJoyce Watson said: “Pembrokeshire’s leaders need to get a grip fast. Clearly, the ministerial board must remain in place until senior officers and the chief executive prove that they are up to the job of protecting our children

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