Cllr Geoff Lumley.
THERE were calls last night (Wednesday) for heads to roll in the wake of Ofsted’s damning report on child protection on the Isle of Wight.
At a full council meeting, Cllr Geoff Lumley called on the chairman of the children and young people’s scrutiny panel, Cllr George Cameron, and cabinet member for children’s services, Cllr Dawn Cousins, to quit after Ofsted branded the child protection service inadequate.
Cllr Lumley, the Isle of Wight Council’s sole Labour councillor, asked Cllr Cameron: "Are you going to hang your head in shame and resign tonight?"
Cllr Lumley said the latest judgement followed five 'adequate’ ratings by Ofsted.
He highlighted that as late as July last year, Cllr Cousins told the scrutiny panel there had been "tremendous progress" while Cllr Cameron had said there had been real improvements since last year.
It led Cllr Lumley to question: "Is it the role of the scrutiny panel to challenge policy, to ask questions, to be inquisitive, or is it just to support a cabinet member in their policy decisions?"
Cllr Cameron said the panel was comfortable its questions had been answered and they had done their best. He said he felt the panel had challenged officers and the latest report would be on their next agenda.
Cllr Cousins, who revealed last year she would not seek re-election this May, said Ofsted inspections had become much more rigorous, a move she welcomed, and that since the report officers had been through 700 cases and taken immediate action where necessary.
"We can confidently say that in our opinion, there are no children at risk," she said.
She added: "There was no way I could have known the quality of some of the case practice that was going on; again, I make no excuse."
Cllr Barry Abraham said: "As serious as this is, there have been no child deaths on the Isle of Wight. I think that is the most important thing."
Following the meeting, former Isle of Wight councillor Deborah Gardiner, described Cllr Abraham's remark as crass.
She led calls in 2009 for a full review of child protection after claiming councillors had been left in the dark during the handling of a Serious Case Review into the death of a baby in 2007.
She said: "Cllr Abraham's crass comment just demonstrates how little councillors understand about the seriousness of safeguarding the welfare of all children.
"In 2009 they fought tooth and nail to stop any serious scrutiny of the safeguarding service and it seems that things have gone downhill even from that low point.
"Add in the education changes and it seems the Conservative legacy for Island children is a sorry one of "We started off bad and we've made it worse."