Decision due this summer on who will run Blackpool children's services

A decision on the future of children's services in Blackpool could be made by the end of July after the Government took measures to turn the failing service around.

Thursday, 30th May 2019, 8:57 am
Updated Thursday, 30th May 2019, 9:57 am
Blackpool Council's children's services are under scrutiny

Helen Lincoln was appointed by the Education Secretary in March as children's services commissioner to try to drive up standards after Ofsted inspectors rated the council 'inadequate' for the second time in six years.

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Ms Lincoln has been brought in from Essex County Council where she works as executive director for children, families and education.

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Coun Blackburn said: "Her job is to advise the minister on whether she thinks Blackpool Council has the capacity to improve.

"She will share that advice with me and the chief executive but it will not be made public as ultimately the decision is for the minister.

"I have made it my business to be present when the commissioner is present and to have a one-to-one meeting with her next week.

"I fully accept everything Ofsted had to say and it is vital the council gets children's services right, which we have done before."

But he added the goal needed to be to achieve sustainable improvement.

He said: "The minister's decision is whether Blackpool continues running its children's sevices or some sort of children's trust is put in. Then Ofsted will come every quarter and expect to see improvement.

"Then it's about making sure the service remains in a good place in five or 20 years time.

"And it's that sustained improvement we have not seen here.

"Since the council became a unitary authority in 1998, it has always been a struggle.

"There are all sorts of reasons for that but ultimately it's for politicians to take responsibility for the failures and the improvement journey. You have to be open to new ideas and new ways of working."

In January, an Ofsted report found some of Blackpool's most vulnerable children were living in "chronic neglect" and criticised council bosses over a raft of problems that led to the council getting the lowest "inadequate" rating for the second time in six years.