The Kids Are Alright… Or Are They?

Council offices, Twickenham

Council offices, Twickenham

Since 2010 Conservative led Richmond Council have been working with other boroughs developing opportunities to share services. And when it comes to the provision of children’s services, they’re getting pretty chummy with Lib Dem run Kingston. In fact, the two boroughs are establishing a jointly owned organisation, ‘Achieving for Children’, to deliver children’s services in this part of south west London. It’s headed up by Nick Whitfield, formerly of Kingston Council, more recently of El Brute and who is now Joint Director of Education and Children’s Services across the two boroughs. Moving to a situation where a jointly owned body takes on this responsibility moves both councils further down the route of becoming commissioners rather than providers of local services.

For some this is all good news, helping to deliver savings and providing opportunities for private companies to introduce new ideas to the public sphere. Others don’t like it, preferring to see key services provided directly by the local authority, keeping control and accountability more closely tied in to the council. In other words, it’s an ideological debate as well as just a financial one… and it’s right that all aspects including cost, accountability and service delivery are considered. Richmond’s Lib Dems aren’t happy and put a motion to an extraordinary Council meeting at El Brute last week expressing concern over the approach. Their problem with it revolved around the delegation of child protection to an independent third party provider and in the motion they expressed ‘grave concern at the stated intention of the administration to make ‘Achieving for Children’ an independent company.’ And guess what? Not being in control of the Council they lost the vote and so the plan will continue to move forward.

In the meantime, El Brute has launched a consultation on its draft Children’s And Young People’s Plan which sets out the ‘strategic direction and goals’ for the provision of services covering the borough’s young residents through to 2017. The services being discussed affect children and young people up to the age of 19 and, in the case of those in case or with learning disabilities, up to the age of 25. It covers schooling (or rather those aspects which still remain in local authority control), health, caring for people with special needs, promoting opportunities for children, etc.

And of course, it’s going to fall to the new venture ‘Achieving for Children’ to deliver it. You can read through the draft plan online – and probably deserve a GCSE for doing so – and then make comments in a survey. If you want to have your say, the deadline is 17th February.

* Children & Young People Consultation


Filed under Council, Local Issues & News, Schools

10 responses to “The Kids Are Alright… Or Are They?

  1. I see that my views aren’t liked oh well but they are based on my observations as endlessly outsourcing everything is not a guarantee of positive results eg atos healthcare assessments ,a4e, g4s to name but a few..the market doesnt always deliver as its duty is due to its shareholders . Consider privatizing the police and being sent a bill see how you get on with that.

  2. Gareth Roberts

    Two downward thumbs but no opposing argument. Pity.

  3. Gareth Roberts

    For all of the bluster and faff from the Tory Benches not one of them was able to give an answer as to the benefits of the final stage of floating Achieving For Children off as an independent company.

    We were able to come up with reasons why we had concerns and why that final stage shouldn’t happen.

    Perhaps as Scott is a regular contributor to these boards he would like to put the case specifically as to why the final stage of floating off AFC is a better idea than keeping them still within the reach of democratic accountability.

    • Gareth Roberts

      No Scott? Oh well #NailsFails

    • That’s the Tory way, throw everything at the private sector as long as someone is making a profit that’s ok

    • jimbo

      Pretty obvious that you did not have to experience life when all things were in govt control – eg gas, water, electricity, telephones. Service was quite appalling, and there was no incentive to improve.

    • That’s where you are so wrong . My dad worked for public company. When it went private he was expected to do the job of ten people to save money . He used to come home from work at 11pm. In the end he had to take early retirement or it would have killed him as his health got worse st that point . Same with my brother he told me the newly privatised company wouldn’t even fit safety alarms on vans just to save money. I wouldn’t call that improvement

    • I am not saying that all outsourcing is bad sometimes its necessary but you can’t keep throwing everything to the privates and if in this case children who are a concern then it stands that protection must be guaranteed . And if not then questions must be asked. Isn’t that obvious ..