Northamptonshire County Council leader Matt Golby has survived a vote which called on him to resign from his position.
Councillor Golby has faced calls to step down in recent weeks over two serious case reviews, which criticised the county’s children’s services actions around the time of the deaths of two children in the county.
Dylan Tiffin-Brown, two, and a one-year-old Kettering girl died during the two years between 2016 and 2018 when Councillor Golby was in his previous role as cabinet member for children’s services.
A statement from the council’s children’s services recently apologised for ‘letting down’ the children and said it was ‘deeply ashamed’.
A motion brought forward today (June 20) by the opposition Labour group called on Councillor Golby to offer his resignation. Labour leader Bob Scott said: “Recently the government has had to appoint a children’s commissioner to the county as a result of a lack of progress. The current director of children’s services has said it’s impossible to determine when children’s services will achieve a good rating.
“It’s time for Councillor Golby to step up and take responsibility. It’s what the people in this county would expect. And it would send a message that councillors do face up to their responsibilities.”
But Councillor Golby responded to the motion immediately, and said that he would not step down as the authority needed stability.
He said: “I have spoken many times about my commitment to moving this council forward, and that still stands. I have made my apology in relation to the two very tragic cases that have prompted this motion.
“But this organisation needs stability, and this motion from the opposition is irresponsible. The opposition groups were offered briefings on the serious case reviews as we wanted to share information.”
But Lib Dem councillor Dennis Meredith said that the council leader’s actions during his tenure as leader didn’t demonstrate that he wanted stability.
He told the chamber: “He changes his cabinet like there’s no tomorrow, how can you have stability when you keep changing your cabinet? Councillor Golby is not in charge. He is sitting there as a yes man. The commissioners make all the decisions. Let someone else have a go. Get on your bike and go.”
But Conservative councillors rallied around their leader, who has also faced calls to step down from within parliament from the Conservative MP for Kettering, Phillip Hollobone.
But Councillor Richard Auger said: “I have the utmost respect for my colleagues on the left. But you have tried to associate the death of these infants on one person. That can’t be right. There’s no due process or allegations of misconduct. You are using this politically to oust a leader.”
And Councillor Michael Clarke added: “I’m appalled at the degree of venom. I have known Matt for 15 years, and know him to be a man of honour and integrity. He would not let a situation like this develop had he been made aware of it.
“We had an officer, who is no longer with us and isn’t here to defend herself, so I won’t name her. This officer bears considerable responsibility for misleading Matt, or at the least being economical with the truth.”
And current cabinet member for children’s services, Councillor Fiona Baker, said she thought it was ‘appalling’ that the opposition had sought to use the sad deaths of the two infants for ‘political gain’.
The motion was voted down, with no Conservative councillors breaking rank.