Four Conservative Northamptonshire MPs took part in the debate started by the tabling of an urgent question by shadow communities secretary Andrew Gwynne about the serious case reviews published last week into the deaths of two-year-old Dylan Tiffin-Brown from Northampton in December 2017 and a one-year-old baby from Kettering in April last year.
Both were murdered by violent drug dealers they were living with and the serious case reviews both found that mistakes had been made by professionals and that opportunities had been missed.
Conservative Kettering MP Philip Hollobone said responsibility for the failings in care must rest with Conservative-run Northamptonshire County Council which he said ‘has been dysfunctional for many years but particularly within children’s social services’.
He called on children’s minister Nadhim Zahawi, who was answering questions at the dispatch box, to join him in calling for Cllr Golby’s resignation.
He said: “The public in Kettering want to know who is going to take responsibility for this appalling tragedy and I’m afraid the answer must lie with the local councillor in charge of children’s services at the time. That individual now happens to be the leader of Northamptonshire County Council. He is a good man and he is working very hard to transform the council into the two unitaries, but I believe that the buck most stop with the person at the top.”
Last week Cllr Golby said he would not be stepping down.Daventry MP Chris Heaton-Harris said he had been raising concerns since 2010 about the local authority and was going to see the government appointed children’s commissioner who is now overseeing the department about ‘a number of current cases’.
Corby MP Tom Pursglove and Northampton South MP Andrew Lewer also expressed their concerns about the findings of the serious case reviews.
Andrew Gwynne brought up the issue of a third serious case review into the neglect of a Northampton boy who was locked in a room by his family. The Northamptonshire Safeguarding Children Board, which will be scrapped and replaced by a new partnership, said last week that the report would not be published because of the impact it would have on the children.
However the children’s minister said the draft copy of the serious case review had not yet been received by the national child safeguarding review panel which would ‘carefully consider’ whether or not the serious case review should be published.
He said measures that had been put in place to improve children’s services in Northamptonshire had included installing the children’s commissioner and also deciding to set up an independent trust to run the children’s services.
The calls for Cllr Golby, who has led the failing council since May last year, to go are not going away.
A motion of no confidence in his leadership is being put forward by the Labour group to be debated at the full council meeting on Thursday, June 20.
The motion says the council has failed in its statutory duty to protect children in the community.
It reads: “This council calls for the resignation of Northamptonshire County Council leader Matt Golby due to his inability over six years to deliver improvements in our children’s services.”
But leader of the opposition Cllr Bob Scott says he is not hopeful the motion will be passed as it will require a number of Conservative councillors to vote against their leader.