The woman in charge of Walsall Council’s ‘inadequate’ children’s social services will stand down once an a improvement plan is in place and successor appointed to turn the department round.
Executive director of children’s services Pauline Pilkington decided to step down following a scathing Ofsted inspection report which concluded it was failing to properly protect children in its care.
The damning report rated Walsall Council’s Safeguarding Children Service as ‘‘inadequate’’ saying it was placing children at potential risk of harm and claims there is little prospect of improvement. Ofsted inspectors found it failing in a number of key areas including being too slow to assess children thought to be at risk and being too slow to take children known to be in harmful situations into council care.
Mrs Pilkington, a mother-of-two who lives in Cannock, was awarded the MBE in 2009 for services to local government during her 30-year-career.
At the time she was described as ‘‘a true champion for the cause of young people and children in Walsall’’.
The Ofsted inspection was carried out in June and not only found services ‘‘inadequate’’ in eight out of 22 areas but also concluded that managers would be unable to drive through improvements. An independent Children’s Improvement Board, reporting direct to Children’s Minister Tim Loughton, will now closely monitor the department.
Walsall Council’s Conservative leaders have now apologised and said that action is already being taken to turn the service around.
Council leader Mike Bird said: “We will fix things and we are already working closely with our partners to ensure we meet the challenge ahead.”
Coun Andrew added: “Our children and young people deserve better and residents can be assured that the council and its partners who are involved in safeguarding are conducting a root and branch review of our services.”
She added that Ofsted had recently tightened its inspection criteria.
Opposition Labour group leader Tim Oliver said the authority must act quickly to protect children and restore public trust in the service.
He said: “There can there be no worse condemnation of a town hall than to be told ‘you are failing the children in your care’.
“This report is not just deeply disappointing; It is a bitter blow for all those families that rely on the service and for the staff on the frontline who work so hard.”