The Debate Calling for the Resignation of the Lead Member and the Leader at the Council Meeting on 16th April 2013

You can wait for the full minutes to be published but here is our take of what happened at the Tory initiated debate calling for the resignation of the Lead Member and Leader on 16th April 2013

At the full Council on 16th April 2013 the Tories put up the following motion:

Whilst supporting the programme in place to improve children’s safeguarding led by the independently chaired Improvement Board, the Council takes into account the contents of the Serious Case Review, published February 2013, and concludes that the Lead Member for Children and Young People does not possess the ability to oversee or the understanding to challenge and should resign her position.

The Leader of the Council has not fulfilled his responsibility to ensure that overall partnership working is effective and should also resign.

A deputation from Kingston Labour Party spoke before the discussion of the motion, and the statement has already been published on this website. After the Labour Party statement there were no questions on the statement or the 35 questions from the Liberal Democrats in the ten minutes allotted for councillors to raise questions with the deputation. They just sat in silence.

A number of Tory members spoke and some of the speeches were stark and direct in their criticism of the Lead Member for Children and Young People’s Services, Councillor Bamford. There was less criticism directed at the Leader, Councillor Osbourne. It would have made more sense if the motion had simply called for the resignation of Councillor Bamford.

From the Liberal Democrat side there was only one speech, and that came from the Leader, Councillor Osbourne. Most of his speech was directed at the statement made by the deputation from Kingston Labour Party. At least he complimented Alex on his tweeting (da da da da da da da da Tweetman! see @KBLabour). We note the Liberal Democrat tweet machine carefully ignored the main item on the Council agenda, this debate.

Councillor Osbourne, however, failed to answer any of the 35 Labour Party questions that had been submitted in advance, and accused Kingston Labour Party of “dwelling on the past”. He admitted that there had been failings “in the past” but he was going to take responsibility by staying as leader. He went on to accuse the teachers who had spoken at the Scrutiny Panel of lying.

At no time did he express any confidence in the Lead Member for Children and Young People’s Services. In fact his speech totally ignored her. Not one Liberal Democrat spoke so all the accusations from the Tories that Councillor Bamford was not up to the job were accepted by the Liberal Democrats in silence. Councillor Bamford did not even try to defend herself At the end of the Council none of the Liberal Democrats appeared to give any support to Councillor Bamford.

Now call us old-fashioned, but the Liberal Democrats are clearly showing all the team spirit and support for each other that you might expect from a bag of Brussel sprouts left on the counter of a super-market check-out. Councillor Bamford must be feeling very isolated and very sore at her “colleagues”.

After the meeting Councillor Osbourne did come and speak to the Labour Party deputation and re-iterated the plea that we “move on” – i.e. please stop asking awkward questions. He did say that he would provide answers to the 35 questions, though why he did not say that in Council we cannot tell. He certainly did not say there would be a full report that would be open to public scrutiny.

It seems to us that even the Liberal Democrats have, like the Labour Party, little faith that the necessary changes in policy and procedure can be implemented under the current Lead Member. How many days or hours must pass before failings become “dwelling in the past” can only be the subject of philosophical discourse. At the moment the failings are very current because no one has confidence that the full story has been told or that effective change is taking place in children’s safeguarding policies and procedures. Local democracy is ill-served served by trying to consign the present to the past.