Tuesday, December 2, 2008
'BABY P' REPORT PUBLISHED
Today the OFSTED 'Baby P' Report was published, highlighting a 'catalogue of failings' by Haringey Children's Services Department and its senior management. Action has finally been taken to dismiss 3 senior Haringey Managers, including Sharon Shoesmith, the Director who claimed that her Department was 'effective' - but totally failed to protect a tiny child from being tortured to death in spite of 60 official visits by health visitors, social workers and the Police.
As Vice Chairman of Bedfordshire Children's Services Committee, I questioned our Director of Children's Services at a recent meeting about our Bedfordshire child protection procedures. He issued a detailed statement which reassured Councillors that the Bedfordshire child protection system now operates to a very high standard, having been radically reformed during the past 3 years.
The Labour Government imposes endless performance targets and central controls on local Councils so strategies, box ticking and management speak dominate. Whatever happened to simple common sense? Also in today's world top politicians and highly paid public sector managers happily take high salaries but refuse to take the blame when their flawed systems go badly wrong.
ARE WE NOW LIVING IN A POLICE STATE?
Now in an even more sinister turn of events the Government has lost control over the flow of information, in spite of its own constant information leaks to press, eg information on the Pre Budget Report realsed before Alistair Darling's Speech.
Damian Green MP, a Shadow Conservative Miister, was treated like a terrorist and dragged off to a police station at dawn by an army of police officers for 9 hours' questioning, simply for receiving information from a disillusioned civil servant, in exactly the same way that Gordon Brown did as a young politician!
Whatever happened to civil liberties? The Government's hypocrisy and Metropolitan Police 'overkill' are mind boggling and the Home Secretary, Jackie Smith denies all knowledge of what is going on in her own Home Office! If this is true, who is really in control?
Arresting Opposition MPs for spurious reasons is a tactic used by police states across the world, especially by Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, but until now I believed that England was a civilised and democratic country accountable to its people.
WHAT DO COUNCILLORS ACTUALLY DO?
D Jones has criticised me for attending concerts and asks if I do anything as a Councillor. If he read ALL my Blogs he would see that I am a very active Councillor but my daily routine makes dull reading.
Today I met with my local Police Team, replied to dozens of emails and telephone calls from residents and am organising some small grants for village organisations. Tonight I will chair a Borough Corporate & Resource Committee and attend another meeting.
Contrary to popular belief local Councillors do not receive a salary, but an expense allowance and their role is only part time. As a County and Borough Councillor I work 30+ hours a week on Council duties and related activities, daytime and evenings.
I attend many Elstow and Wilstead village social functions including concerts, so that I am free to talk to residents. I hold regular surgeries, attend evening parish council meetings and reading endless Council documents. Also I am involved in other voluntary activities - I am a school governor at Elstow Lower School and chair the Trustees of the Friends of Elstow Abbey Church, raising funds for church repairs.
At present I am one of only 2 Councillors out of 220 across Bedfordshire who bothers to write a Blog which I use as another form of communication with local residents.
My main income comes from pensions and a 3rd part time job as an Employment Tribunal Member. In truth I am far more active than many other Councillors and the majority of people of my age and hardly ever sit at home and watch TV in the evening.