Council leader won't resign over council's failings in two Northamptonshire murdered child cases

The leader of Northamptonshire County Council Matt Golby is ignoring calls to stand down in the wake of the findings of reviews into the murders of two Northamptonshire children.

By Sarah Ward
Wednesday, 5th June 2019, 7:13 pm
Cllr Golby has ignored calls to resign after today's serious case reviews into the deaths of two Northamptonshire children.
Cllr Golby has ignored calls to resign after today's serious case reviews into the deaths of two Northamptonshire children.

Cllr Golby was the cabinet member responsible for children’s services at the county council from May 2016 to March 2018, and now the leader of the opposition Cllr Bob Scott and the leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the council Chris Stanbra have called for him to go.

Separate reviews into the deaths of two-year-old Northampton toddler Dylan Tiffin-Brown in December 2017 and a one-year-old Kettering baby in April 2018 found that mistakes were made by the under-staffed children’s department and opportunities to better protect them were missed.Both were killed by the violent drug dealers they were living with.

The shadow communities secretary MP Andrew Gwynne has also called for Cllr Golby to resign.

But Cllr Golby has resisted the calls and said that nothing that happened within the authority at the moment could make him resign. He was not present at today’s high-profile media conference and said he thought it was not appropriate for him to be there. The review into the children’s deaths are today making national headlines.

He said: “I’m not going to stand down. When this sort of stuff happens you need to do some soul searching and it is only right we do that. We are really sorry about what happened but I stand by the department. I acted in the most diligent way I possibly could and asked the questions of directors. I was aware the department had challenges but was given reassurances that everything was being done.”

Cllr Bob Scott said: “Matt Golby was the cabinet member for children’s services for a number of years and under his watch we have seen the system get worse and worse.

“He could have been asking questions and getting better systems in place. He must have been in receipt of information from the directors and clearly he has not been questioning it robustly.

“It is not as though the issues were not highlighted. Within the Labour group we highlighted this issue on a number of occasions. Cllr Julie Brookfield was on the improvement board and she repeatedly talked about not enough having been done when the improvement board finished its work.”

Chairman of the Northamptonshire Safeguarding Children Board Keith Makin, who today stood down, said he thought it was a mistake to close down the improvement board which had been set up in 2013 after children’s services went into special measures.

Labour MP Mr Gwynne said: “Council leader Matt Golby has to go. He failed when he was in charge of children’s services, and he’s failed since taking over the council. The people of Northants need to be reassured that vulnerable children in the county will be protected. And the county council must immediately restore the funding that it has cut from children’s services.”

Cllr Stanbra said: “Cllr Golby is now leader of the council and he has to give some serious thought to whether he can continue in the position.”

Cllr Golby took on the leader role last year after former leader Heather Smith stood down in the wake of a damning government report into the council’s governance and finances.