The previous chief executive of Northamptonshire County Council who led the authority in its run-up to its financial crash has appeared to mock the current problems in the council’s children’s social services.
Paul Blantern today responded to a tweet by BBC radio Northampton journalist Craig Lewis about the resignation of Children’s Commissioner Malcolm Newsam by saying the situation was ‘so funny’.
Mr Newsam had been brought in last year to turn around the failing children’s services department which had a large number of problems including a lack of social workers and referrals not being dealt with properly.
Mr Blantern, who left the council in October 2017, tweeted: “So funny… when I left NCC the children’s services had improved, was not in measures & we had praise from Minister & former commissioner for our effort and focus & the Trust I was putting in place was nearly ready as part of design to balance budget as I always had… now look!”
Northamptonshire children’s services first went into special measures in 2013 – while Mr Blantern was in charge. At the time Ofsted said that children were not effectively protected from harm and there were systemic weaknesses and ineffective practices.
It came out of special measures in 2016 but was still deemed to be requiring improvement and the improvement board was wound down. However it then began to slide again. It was rated as inadequate again in July this year.
Independent chair of the Northamptonshire Children Safeguarding Board Keith Makin said publicly following two serious case review into the murders of two Northamptonshire children that the improvement board had been shut down too quickly.
Much of what Mr Blantern did in terms of reorganising the council into a series of stand along bodies has been discredited – after not working and costing the authority large sums of money. Under his leadership the council relied on its reserves each year to prop up services. The now infamous Max Caller government report found that the council ‘failed to manage its budget’ until it went bust in April 2018.
LGSS, a partner organisation which he founded in 2010 and ties up NCC with Milton Keynes Council and Cambridgeshire County Council, is under review and could be wound up.
Mr Blantern, who now works as a consultant, also failed to act on a warning given by the authority’s then chief finance officer saying that the council was in a financial crisis and urgent action needed to be taken.