County council slammed over Ofsted report

HERTFORDSHIRE County Council has been slammed following the results of a surprise Ofsted inspection into children’s services.

Following last month’s inspection – brought about following the Baby Peter tragedy in Haringey – the Tory-run council issued a statement in which it described the results as “encouraging”.

However, opposition Lib Dems have accused the council of putting its own spin on the report, which identified seven areas that need improvement and two that require URGENT action – namely delays in assessing a number of cases and an unsatisfactory management of risk in the contact centre.

Cllr Jane Pitman, executive member for children’s services, said: “We are pleased that Ofsted has highlighted our strengths, which reflect the hard work of our staff in raising the standards of social care in the past two years.”

But Lib Dem borough and county councillor Malcolm Cowan said he was “very disappointed” at the statement.

“It is an extremely optimistic summary of the actual position,” he said.

He added: “We have got to get to the level that the inspectors and the public expect.”

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Cllr Pitman admitted there was “room for improvement”.

And John Harris, director of the council’s children, schools and families department, said the issues highlighted by Ofsted arose due to severe staff shortages earlier this year.

Yet this cut little ice with Lib Dem party leader Chris White.

Cllr White said: “The county announced this report in very glowing terms, only briefly mentioning the serious defects in the system and praising the areas that had been highlighted as meeting basic standards.”