Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Doncaster Council could lose children's services work

Mansion House, Doncaster
Image caption The government intervention at Doncaster Council had been due to end in July

An outside body could take over children's social care services from a failing council, the education secretary has said.

Michael Gove has asked a top academic to lead a review of child protection work at Doncaster Council.

It comes in response to Lord Carlile's report published in November, which criticised the authority.

The Mayor of Doncaster, Peter Davies, said he would be "considering the Secretary of State's proposals".

'Change required'

The council has been under central government control since 2010 and Mr Gove wants that to continue until 2015.

Lord Carlile wrote his report in the wake of the Edlington case, in which two young boys were tortured by two brothers, aged 11 and 12, in April 2009.

In a letter to Mr Davies, Mr Gove said "serious and longstanding" failures in Doncaster's children's services required "significant action".

He has asked Prof Julian Le Grand, from the London School of Economics to review the department and report back to him in May.

But he said in the meantime "immediate improvement measures" had to be put in place.

'Long way to go'

Independent mayor Mr Davies said: "There have been significant improvements in our services but I have always made it clear that we still have a long way to go and need to accelerate the pace of change.

"As the latest report indicates there are no quick fixes and we must remember that we are responding to a huge problem that has been decades in the making."

The review has been welcomed by lawyers representing the victims of the Edlington attack.

Sonia Hume-Dawson, of Wosskow Brown Solicitors, said: "Everyone involved in the aftermath of these crimes will be relieved that action is being taken and the families involved welcome the Secretary of State's intervention."

Ros Jones, Labour's candidate for the election on 2 May to choose Doncaster's next mayor, said: "The Education Secretary is right to tell Mayor Peter Davies that the scale of the problem requires significant action.

"It is a sad indictment that after four years with him as mayor, virtually no progress has been made to deliver the much-needed improvements we so urgently need."

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