Politically Correct by Derek Robertson - July 13, 2016

We must tackle issue of children in care

Wednesday, 13th July 2016, 10:10 am
Updated Wednesday, 13th July 2016, 11:12 am
Coun Derek Robertson

Numbers of looked after children continue to soar in Blackpool as this council commits to hiring more social workers and invest in another ‘expert’ to help solve the crisis.

As usual the council blame the ‘cuts’ for the disgraceful fact that we have the highest number of looked after children in the UK.

But this problem has been with us long before the cuts were implemented and other ‘experts’ have also been engaged in the past to try and solve the issue.

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The numbers quoted, circa, 500, are misleading as, to the best of my knowledge, they only represent those under the age of 16 and Blackpool has an obligation to take care of children up until they are 21.

So the numbers could be significantly higher.

Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn did ‘hold up his hands’ to the problem in 2012 and despite some departmental improvements the problem has worsened.

As a group we have called for closer working with schools.

We have also asked that social workers actually have child officers working within the school framework looking out for early signs of problems that might indicate issues at home.

These social workers would be trained interveners who could make contact and offer support to families at an early level helping to prevent future more intensive problems.

The social workers could help with truancy, behavioural problems and regular absences.

When this idea was first brought to full council by the leader of the Conservative group Coun Tony Williams he was told by one Labour member he was ‘living in cloud cuckoo land’.

However those working in the department have fully agreed with him and have even suggested it should be trialled.

Considering that the leader of this council and many other Labour councillors have a social service background the actual problem is even more worrying.

School nurses’ vital role

The decision by this council to stop funding school nurses came as a shock and a huge worrying surprise to parents across the town.

The school nurse’s day-to-day role varies greatly from area to area, depending on the type of school.

Typically, it includes carrying out health assessments, home visits to families in need, providing health education, advice, and signposting to other sources of information, providing immunisation clinics, advising and supporting schools with their public health agendas for example healthy eating advice, stop smoking programmes safeguarding and service coordination.

One of their most important roles is in the prevention of obesity something that is reaching worrying levels in our own schools, especially as this council insists on clinging on to their political decision to provide a less than healthy free breakfast to primary pupils.

Recent decisions to cut back on the content of the breakfast scheme have meant that children now only receive a piece of fruit and a brioche or bun.

The healthiest part of the current breakfast was the bottled water and now even that has been taken away.

Fluoride has now been added to school milk and before doing so children’s urine was tested for any traces of fluoride in their systems.

Fortunately there was none but as this fluoride is taken into the body through a straw and digested via the blood stream, how will we know if bodily levels of fluoride reach unacceptable levels as school nurses, the very people who are employed to test these levels, are no longer funded to find this out.

I doubt if this council has any intention at all of monitoring this controversial action.

China Town for South Shore?

Despite lobbying the council the South Shore area of Blackpool is still the forgotten corridor.

Bond Street in particular has enormous potential for some specialist, themed retail and social eating establishments and the Conservative group continue to hold dialogue with Chinese business investors in the hope that we could introduce the town’s first mini China Town to this street.

Suggestions of a Sunday street market, mini festival decorated lamp posts and other regular attractions made by traders have all been met with a limp response by the council who seem to have concentrated more on a selective licence scheme, which locals claim have made little difference to anti-social behaviour, rather than help to re build a once thriving retail and visitor community.

Perhaps a hidden agenda exists where the council hope the properties will become so run down they can pick them up cheap, demolish them and build more homes or maybe yet another car park.