South West Wales

Pembrokeshire safeguarding children: Ministers consider next step

Pembrokeshire council offices in Haverfordwest
Image caption Inspectors say there has been slow progress at Pembrokeshire council

Ministers are to consider further their response to calls for a council to be put into special measures to help it safeguard children in its care.

Schools inspectorate Estyn and the Wales Audit Office both called for more intervention at Pembrokeshire council.

An advisory board, brought in after claims children were locked in a padded "time-out" room, will stay in place.

But the education minister warned: "If the council cannot address these issues, then we will".

The Welsh government said it will make a further statement in January.

Pembrokeshire council has said it is committed to resolving serious issues highlighted in critical reports by Estyn and WAO.

The local authority has faced criticism over the way it deals with child abuse allegations.

A complaint was made in June 2009 about children being locked in the room, which had no natural light or ventilation, at the pupil referral unit in Neyland.

This week Estyn called for the council to be put in to special measures after its examination found officials and senior councillors have been too slow to recognise key issues in safeguarding children and to change the culture within the education service.

The WAO said the council had made some positive changes in its arrangement for safeguarding children but had not responded "with sufficient speed and rigour".

'Unacceptable risk'

Education Minister Leighton Andrews and Local Government Minister Carl Sargeant have responded to the calls by saying the advisory board will remain in place while they plan a further statement in January.

Mr Andrews said: "These reports give clear continued cause for concern highlighting that Pembrokeshire council's deficiencies are putting services in the local authority at unacceptable risk.

"If the council cannot address these issues, then we will."

Mr Sargeant said: "We will be working closely together over the coming weeks to consider our response to the serious issues in these reports and we will have further discussions with the deputy minister for children and social services."

council accused of failures in safeguarding children should now be placed in special measures, according to Advisors were sent to Pembrokeshire after claims that children were locked in a padded "time-out" room.

In a separate report, the auditor general has called for the Welsh government to intervene over concerns about the "speed and rigour" of change.

Pembrokeshire council says it is committed to resolving serious issues.

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