A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The toughest job in local government?

My friend Claire Kober has drawn the short straw and been elected as Leader of Haringey Council last night.

This means the buck will stop with her for turning round the faults in Haringey's social services identified in last week's OFSTED report, and ensuring that Haringey Council does not allow another horrific tragedy like the Baby P case to take place.

I hope she is successful in leading Haringey to a position where its children's services ensure that all the children in the borough get the protection they need.


Anonymous M said...

"Drawn the short straw"? Is that how Claire sees it? If I lived in Haringey I wouldn't be very pleased if the new Leader of my council felt she'd "drawn the short straw" by representing and leading the council for local people. Yes, it will be hard work but politics and governing is hard work, Luke. Less of the pessimism please. Let's all hope Claire can get to work sorting out the problems but let's also hope she enjoys it too. You more than anyone should appreciate how rewarding being a local councillor can be. To be leader is an even bigger privilege.

6:22 pm, December 10, 2008

Blogger Mark Still News said...

Lets hope things improve there!
Its down to the budget as well!
Experienced staff need to be retained.

7:30 pm, December 10, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thoughts on Child Protection from a Councillor's perspective, Luke?

Was there much response amongst Labour Group in Hackney to either Baby P's sad death or the tragic murder of two children in Hackney by their mother?

Should Councillors have a direct role in keeping an eye on cases such as this?

What do you think of Hackney's "Reclaiming Social Work" programme?

9:38 pm, December 10, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

Nothing to do with money and everything to do with inspections and tick boxes. We are so concerned now about getting ratings from inspectors that our managers have become experts at scoring high without delivering a service.

A child dies from neglect but the council a year before is awarded stars. These stars would have been achieved through an inspection and as with any public service there are criteria to be met. One will certainly be paperwork and is why our front line staff spend all their days behind a desk and not helping people. Tick that box, tick this box and all is well from the chiefs perspective, but on the ground the situation is very different.

I'm not going to play politics with this as I personally feel devastated that a baby was treated in such a way. I feel like screaming at those in charge as they appear to be so pompous and self righteous about 3 star status....they should be thrown in prison.

We all have to accept that sometimes we can't prevent cruel things happening. But what we should not accept are officials too stuck up their own arses to say sorry and accept responsibility.

9:45 pm, December 10, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark "Experienced staff need to be retained.

Don't you mean Retrained


10:36 pm, December 10, 2008

Blogger Mark Still News said...

The whole thing was very nasty and sickening and surely should have been prevented.

Training should always be available. If any staff need retraining than so be it.

The tick box culture should end.Many Office positions were cut back, leaving the administration tasks to the Social workers themselves, thus taking up a large amount of their time dealing with paper work.

Staff may have been under pressure to meet tick box targets, rather than get out and do the Job properly.

This may not end, as it could lead to more tick box targets.

How many of you have seen this system introduced in your work place?

This meaningless bureaucratic nonsense is appearing everywhere and even the private sector has embraced it!

Even the Police have Targets and spend all day filling in tick boxes-that's why you always see CSO's out all the time & hardly a Cop anywhere to be seen!

But if you sack all the Social services staff tomorrow, then you lose experienced staff dealing with cases-then you put more children at risk.

The people at fault were the Officials enforcing bureaucratic policies and failing to get the real job done!

11:55 pm, December 10, 2008

Anonymous observer's friend said...

Ah, if only we had a whistleblower's charter we could put our trust in ...

2:30 am, December 11, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have heard that political correctness got in the way of common sense like most of society today

7:23 am, December 11, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Labour loyalists have been understandably keeping their heads down about this disgraceful episode in Labour-run Haringey.
Its well known that there is another terrible case going to court in March, so your mate needs all the help etc. Labour's handling of the murder of Baby P, and other cases filtering out has been truly shocking.

7:00 pm, December 11, 2008

Blogger Letters From A Tory said...

"I hope she is successful in leading Haringey to a position where its children's services ensure that all the children in the borough get the protection they need."

If Haringey get to the point where ANY of the children get the protection they need, it will represent an improvement.

10:02 am, December 12, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

she could have made a good start by actually saying something at the meeting at which she was nominated, rather than just sticking out a press release a day later.

4:22 pm, December 12, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

Its unrealistic to think that anyone could 'turn things round' without a major change in our expectations. Which are unrealistic - and operate on the basis that when the kids get killed at home,. they should have been taken into care, otherwise social workers are accused of 'breaking up families'

And those who moan about paperwork are the first to call for the heads of the staff should records not be kept.

I'd happily reduce the paperwork - then watch the lawyers have a field day as no-one can account for what they did because it hasn't been documented.

11:30 pm, December 12, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:31 pm, December 12, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

Yes Mike you are completely right, Lawyers would have a field day, but why is this? Many people including myself think that the legal profession has managed to influence parliament and in the process has made billions from this close relationship.

Many MPs from all sides for some reason come from the legal profession and I think this is why we have developed into a blame society....where the end game is compensation.

Under this governments watch we have seen poverty soar. The figures show otherwise but those on the frontline will tell you about the real state of this country. Having worked on social housing programmes I have witnessed families living in dreadful conditions and children as young as 1 being forced to grow up with families who simply given up caring.

I dread to think where we will be in 3 years time if this is the state of the country after 10 years of boom.

12:17 pm, December 13, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

I have just read an article about the killer Sean Mercer. I find this story shocking and just can't comprehend how someone so young can end up so violent.

He was just 16 years old and showed no remorse at all. I have challenged yobs in the past but stories like this will make me think twice.

It just demonstrates what a tough job social services, the police and our probation service do.

9:57 pm, December 16, 2008

Blogger Benjamin Gray said...

Sorry, I thought this was "no time for a novice"?

12:22 am, December 19, 2008


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