Today’s Ofsted report marks a dark day for our District. It is a damning indictment of the leadership at Bradford Council and reconfirms what I have been saying about the Council's wholly inadequate leadership for months.
The report has evidenced “widespread and serious failures” across every single area of Children’s Services in our District, with Ofsted specifically stating that since their 2018 inspection "corporate and senior leaders have failed to improve services, and have overseen further decline”.
It is particularly striking that one of Ofsted's key recommendations for improvement is a direction that ‘Council and corporate senior leaders should fully discharge themselves from their role as corporate parents”.
Shockingly, this report states that decisions made by Council leadership have put children “at risk of harm”. This is an absolute disgrace - and worst of all, shines a light on the fact that even after the tragic death of Star Hobson, the council's corporate leadership continued to fail.
Today’s Ofsted report firmly concludes that failures within Bradford’s Children Services lie at the door of decision makers and senior leaders. It is beyond belief that the Chief Executive of Bradford Council, Kersten England, has been allowed to remain in her post for so long given she first came to her role in 2015 and since that time has overseen a complete decline and failure to uphold and improve the Council's most basic responsibility – the protection of our children.
It now crystal clear to me that Ms. England pre-emptively announced her resignation a few weeks ago to avoid any kind of accountability for the widespread failures we have heard today – put simply Ms. England jumped before being pushed.
Council leadership has also been exceptionally poor both at a corporate level and through political direction.
The main role of a Council Leader is to hold senior executive officers to account and set a clear direction for the improvement of council services. Bradford Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe has failed to do both. In fact, she even thanked Ms England “for all she has done for the Bradford District over the past 8 years” and praised Ms England's efforts for the District as “tremendous” when responding to the Chief Executive’s retirement announcement.
I am once again calling on both leaders to resign with immediate effect.
All in all, this report shows that the government's decision to strip Bradford Council of Children's Services and establish a new Trust structure last year was absolutely necessary and going forwards it is crucial that this new Trust functions effectively. That means new leadership, a new cultural direction and a new strategy for protecting some of the most vulnerable in our society - our children.
Let us never forget that behind each and every one of these failures is a child whose life has been negatively impacted by those at the top of Bradford Council and whose future has been put at risk."
Robbie Moore MP