“IT’S YET ANOTHER damning verdict on his mayoralty.” That’s how Tower Hamlets Independent Councillors describe yesterday’s announcement that the Government will send in “Intervention Advisors” to supervise Tower Hamlets Council’s work to improve Children’s Services, rated as “inadequate” by Ofsted this April.
The Independent Group believe the news will come as a further blow to John Biggs, saying, “John Biggs suffered further indignity as the Secretary of State imposed a ‘hit squad’ – diplomatically described as ‘intervention advisers’ – because John Biggs’s Administration is failing to perform to an adequate standard in relation to “children’s social care functions.”
The Group has pointed out the irony in the Government imposing experts from Islington Council and Lincolnshire County Council to supervise Tower Hamlets Children Services struggle to run services which are at least “adequate” once more. This is a stark contrast to the situation only a few years ago, they say – when Islington used to learn from Tower Hamlets.
Inside the Town Hall, the Group believes, this is another sign that “Bungling Biggs” is running an Administration in meltdown. Although neither the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services (who was criticised by Ofsted for failing to attend key meetings) nor senior officers (who were responsible for service delivery) flagged up how seriously the Service was falling behind, the Independent Group believes that the buck stops with the failed mayor, John Biggs.
Former Deputy Mayor and Shadow Lead for Community Safety & Partnerships Cllr Ohid Ahmed said, “On the instruction of the Secretary of State for Education, a government ‘hit squad’ will be imposed to take over our Children Services as ‘Intervention Advisers’. It’s about time John Biggs took a break from inventing scapegoats, stopped making excuses and owned up to his appalling failures – it is he who is letting down the good name of Tower Hamlets and failing vulnerable children. He needs to reflect instead of indulging in his usual lazy and politically convenient rhetoric. This is yet another indictment on John Biggs which shows that his mayoralty is not just in a crisis but in a complete meltdown – and the buck stops with him.”
Councillor Oliur Rahman, Leader of the Independent Group, said: “Government Commissioners have now taken over children services in another name because of the failures of John Biggs. The Tower Hamlets Council’s Children’s Services is now ranked “inadequate” by Ofsted – the lowest possible ranking under the failed Labour Mayor. The same service was ranked “good” with outstanding features under the former Mayor. Biggs’s Cabinet Member did not even bother to attend a single Children Safeguarding Board meeting since 2015 and had to resign. This catastrophic failure has let down parents, carers and very vulnerable kids. Tower Hamlets is paying the price for the Mayor’s failures and he needs to be made accountable.”
Commenting on the Secretary of State’s Order, a Tower Hamlets council spokesperson said, “Children’s social care services remain under the full control of Tower Hamlets – which is clear from the DfE Direction issued. We have a highly ambitious and achievable plan to achieve a good rating for children’s services from Ofsted by April 2019. Work is already well underway and our Children’s Services Improvement Plan is our programme to fundamentally change the way that we will now deliver children’s services. The council is investing an extra £4.8m in children’s services for improvements required by Ofsted.”