Norfolk

MPs want Norfolk children's services leadership change

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Media captionChloe Smith said she had no confidence in the leadership of the department

A children's services department branded inadequate by Ofsted should have its leaders replaced with an interim board, MPs have said.

An inspection in January found Norfolk County Council's children's services put vulnerable children at risk.

A statement from South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss, on behalf of all nine Norfolk MPs, said the situation was "so serious" action was need "immediately".

The council leader said he wanted to concentrate on improving the service.

George Nobbs, Labour, said the council was "much more interested in fixing the problem than party political grandstanding".

Seven Norfolk MPs are Conservatives and two are Liberal Democrats.

The department, which is responsible for child protection, early years education and fostering, was inspected by Ofsted in January.

'Extremely concerned'

The regulator deemed it as inadequate for the way it safeguarded children and said vulnerable children were being put at risk.

The MPs' statement said Ofsted had blamed poor leadership for the failings.

The head of the department, Lisa Christensen, has yet to comment.

The MPs said they met Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson in Westminster on Tuesday to raise their concerns.

Quoted in the MPs' statement, Mr Timpson said: "I am extremely concerned that the arrangements for the protection of children in Norfolk have been judged to be inadequate.

"I take any failure to provide an adequate children's service very seriously and will urgently consider the most appropriate course of action to ensure plans for improvement are robust and rapid."

'More to be done'

Mr Nobbs, who heads a new three-party alliance at Norfolk County Council, said: "The new administration at County Hall shares the concern expressed by Norfolk's MPs."

He added the council needed "no lessons" about improving services for children from the Conservatives, who lost control of the council last month for the first time since 1997.

Anne Gibson, acting managing director of Norfolk County Council, said: "We have got a clear improvement plan in place, as Ofsted knows. An independent chairman is overseeing the improvement board and everyone is working hard on the changes that need to be made.

"Clearly there is more to be done and, of course, we will welcome more help from the government if that is what's on offer."

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