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Call for Council leadership to step aside

January 28, 2013

howardjonesKingston’s Conservatives are again calling for Council leader, Councillor Derek Osbourne, and Lead Member for Children and Young People, Councillor Patricia Bamford, to resign immediately in the wake of the latest childcare scandal. The problems happened “on their watch”, and as such they should take ultimate responsibility, wherever the blame lies.

The Conservative call has been prompted by a tragedy in which a young child witnessed the murder of her mother.  A proper response from Kingston’s social workers could have saved the victim.  That did not happen, despite numerous requests for help.  A brave whistle-blower, who was previously Kingston’s Council’s interim Head of Children’s Social Care, has alleged a disgraceful conspiracy and cover-up. This former senior officer says official records were falsified to support poor responses to the requests for attendance of a social worker.

Councillors Osbourne and Bamford deny any responsibility.  They say they were not told by council employees and are blameless. This claim is incredible, almost unbelievable, and very convenient.  Now is the time for them to admit their failings as elected representatives and resign. If they did not know, they certainly should have done and to claim otherwise is just unacceptable.

The allegations made by Councillors Osbourne and Bamford leaves Kingston Council’s Chief Executive, Mr MacDonald, in a compromised position. The public must have confidence that he is untainted by the past. Consequently, he will have searching questions to answer during the investigations.

 Leader of the Conservative Group, Councillor Howard Jones, says all Conservatives are ready to put politics to one side and do whatever it takes to safeguard Kingston’s most vulnerable children.

“We will work constructively with council employees, relevant agencies and political parties of all shades across the borough. I hope that our local MP, Ed Davey, will join us and also put people ahead of politics. An earlier Ofsted report concluded that the Council’s service was not fit for purpose. An independently chaired Improvement Board has been put in place, together with a new Head of Service, to put matters right and restore the excellent service that we expect from this borough. Kingston’s Conservatives are cooperating fully with the formal initiatives in response to the Ofsted Report and will continue to do so. We will give our full support to any new leadership team.”

Richmond MP  Zac Goldsmith has already given his support to Councillor Jones, “There have been deeply worrying allegations of cover-ups and incompetence, and serious questions need answering by the Administration, but the immediate priority must be to get behind and support our very impressive new Director of Children Services and his team.”

Councillor Jones concluded “Now is the time for Kingston’s elected representatives to demonstrate that we have the best interests of residents at heart.”

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