A former children’s services lead at Liverpool Council has called for the resignation of a cabinet member and government commissioners following a devastating Ofsted report.
The watchdog heavily criticised the service provided by the local authority as “inadequate” and cited “serious weaknesses” for children who need help or protection, leaving children “being harmed or at risk of harm.”
Following an inspection earlier this year, the city’s children’s services department was rated as inadequate in four out of five of the key areas – including the overall rating.
Assessing the impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families, the education watchdog said the council had shown “insufficient prioritisation and pace in tackling critical areas necessary to enable improvement.”
In the aftermath of the report’s findings, Barry Kushner, former cabinet member for children’s services, took to social media to call for the resignation of Cllr Frazer Lake, who held the portfolio from 2021 until this month’s elections. Since the appointment of Cllr Liam Robinson as the new leader of Liverpool Council, Cllr Liz Parsons has taken up the cabinet position for children’s social services.
Former councillor Kushner tweeted following an open letter from the new council leader addressing the shortcomings in the report. He didn’t hold back on where he felt the faults lay, including criticising the government-appointed commissioners overseeing the city.
He said, “The tone of Liam’s letter is right as is (the appointment of) Cllr Liz Parsons as cabinet lead. The service deteriorated since the positive 2021 Ofsted visit, all on the commissioners’ watch.
“They’re not working. The buck stops with them and the cabinet lead from 2021-2023. They should go and he should resign.”
Mr Kushner, who represented Norris Green for 11 years until stepping down earlier this year after being named in an investigation into councillors’ parking tickets, held the children’s services brief between 2016 and 2020. The inspection by Ofsted concluded senior leaders failed to understand the level at which children’s services across Liverpool had declined with issues dating back five years not being addressed effectively.
The report said this meant practice shortfalls identified in 2018 have not been addressed effectively, to make the necessary improvements to children’s lives. The ECHO understands Cllr Lake was said to be disappointed by the comments made by his former Labour colleague.
Sources told the LDRS at least two current Labour councillors echoed Mr Kushner’s calls for the Fazakerley East ward member – who is now the cabinet member for adult social care – to step down when the Labour group met on Thursday.
Responding to Mr Kushner’s tweet, a Labour Party source said, “The report was clear that there were no failings of the political leadership of the service at the time of the inspection.
“It’s worth pointing out, however, that many of the criticisms reflected the period when Barry was the cabinet member responsible, so a bit rich of him to stick his oar in.
“Rather than playing political games, we are 100% focused on fixing the issues highlighted by Ofsted, protecting our children and moving the city forward.”
The LDRS approached the commissioners at Liverpool Council for comment.