Blackpool MP: Team effort needed to tackle ‘inadequate’ children’s services

Blackpool South's Labour MP Gordon Marsden
Blackpool South's Labour MP Gordon Marsden
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A team effort is needed to tackle failings in the way vulnerable children are looked after, Blackpool South’s MP Gordon Marsden said.

His comments came after inspectors gave the council the worst possible ‘inadequate’ rating for its children’s services department.

A damning report, released last week, led to calls for council leader Simon Blackburn and Coun Graham Cain, responsible for the department, to stand down.

Mr Marsden, a Labour MP, said he had met twice with council bosses, and said it was important to look at the situation “in context” – with the resort having long-standing issues with poverty and poor quality housing.

He said council chiefs “need to look at their structure and talk to the people under them”, and added: “I left them in no doubt that I thought this was an urgent problem to tackle.

“It’s about looking at structure and explaining to people in Whitehall the issues in Blackpool, and they need to do that crisply but not in a victim sort of way, and just getting on 
with it.

“They need the support and advice of their MPs, and the third sector, and of their own councillors. This is not something that can be fixed by two or three people – it’s a collaborative thing.”

He added: “It’s clear the council needs to make a strong and positive and urgent response, and engage with the [government-ordered children’s] commissioner when that person is appointed.”

Tory MP for Blackpool North Paul Maynard said he was “worried” by the report, while Coun Tony Williams, the leader of the Conservative opposition at the council, said it was “shameful” and told Couns Blackburn and Cain to do “the honourable thing and resign immediately”.

Coun Blackburn said he refused to accept Coun Cain’s resignation, and vowed to stay and fix the problems.

When asked whether they are the right men for the job, Mr Marsden said: “They had to make their own assessments and they have decided what they have 
decided.”

The report said children were being put “at risk of significant harm”, with a raft of improvements now needed.