HOME   ARCHIVE   GALLERY   SHOP   ABOUT US   LINKS      
 

 
SALFORD COUNCIL SHAMEFUL CHILDRENS SERVICES
 

Star date: 18th August 2011

JILL BAKER V SALFORD COUNCIL

"SHAMEFUL…POOR PRACTICE" AS SALFORD'S VULNERABLE KIDS PUT AT RISK

"I was answerable, I had to take responsibility" John Merry, who never resigned over Salford's `inadequate' Children's Services

For up to four years or more, Salford's most vulnerable children were put at greater risk due to "shameful…poor practice" within Salford Council Children's Services an Employment Tribunal heard yesterday.

Jill Baker, the former Director of Children's Services, is taking Salford Council to the Tribunal with her case for unfair dismissal, and yesterday, John Merry, Leader of Salford Council, was the latest to stick the knife into Mrs Baker's back…

`Et tu, Brute?' Click here…


Barrister: Did the buck stop with you?
Jill Baker: John Merry said that buck stops with him and the Chief Executive, Barbara Spicer…"

It's not yet the Ides of March but this week's Employment Tribunal which is hearing Jill Baker's case for unfair dismissal against Salford Council is almost Shakespearean.

On Monday, Councillor David Lancaster criticised Jill Baker's "capability", and yesterday it was Salford Council Leader John Merry's turn to tell how he lost "trust and confidence" in her as Salford Council's Children's Services went into meltdown following the Serious Case Review of the tragic Demi Leigh Mahon murder (for background see here).

All week, barristers, councillors and Jill Baker herself have been giving a shocking insight into the turmoil, chaos and dangerous practices going on for years behind the closed doors of Salford Council's Children's Services - exposed in real time by the Salford Star in numerous articles.*

The Tribunal heard that with regards to safeguarding Salford's most vulnerable children, "poor practice was custom and practice" dating back to 2005.

Jill Baker said that "poor practice was seen as acceptable" in the child protection system due to "increasing resource issues" which meant that council workers were reluctant to move vulnerable children higher up the scale of the `at risk' register….

"There was an awareness even before the DLM [Demi Leigh Mahon] case that because of pressures on social workers there was a tendency to under investigate a number of children at risk" she said "…There was a potential that some of the children were at increased risk."

Salford Council's barrister responded that this was "Shameful"…

"Regrettable, not shameful" replied Jill Baker.

The Tribunal heard how Mrs Baker had presided over safeguarding "poor practice" in Salford's Children's Services since she had taken over the whole department in 2005.

Despite having a three star rating from external inspections, Salford was operating with a 40% shortage of front line social workers, and Jill Baker said that she had "begun to have doubts" about the service she had inherited… "I began to have suspicions…they were gradual…I couldn't pinpoint a date."

Salford Council's barrister suggested that this "poor custom and practice was allowed to continue for three years"…

In the wake of the scandal surrounding the Serious Case Review into the death of Demi Leigh Mahon, and Salford Council officials being dragged to London to answer to the Government Minister, Jill Baker said she concluded that her assistant, Paul Woltman, was "not up to the job" of changing things… "He was less good than I was led to believe". Woltman subsequently chose to take `early retirement'.

John Merry, Leader of Salford Council, giving evidence, said he had "grave concerns" about the "systematic" problems within the Children's Services Directorate, despite statistics showing improvements…

"My concern all the time was that inspections would reveal further shortcomings in what we were doing" he said "I always felt that Mrs Baker was doing a good job with schools but not with safeguarding; she should have done more to change the culture of social workers…"

Jill Baker was suspended and subsequently dismissed, only in the wake of the Demi Leigh Mahon (DLM) Serious Case Review report, and the media being informed before the Council that no-one would be disciplined for the shortcomings of the department.

Jill Baker's barrister questioned the timing of the dismissal, suggesting it was a result of political pressure, with media calls for the resignation of Councillor John Warmisham, Lead Member for Children's Services, and with the media outcry over Baby P in Haringey.

The murder of DLM had taken place a year before the Serious Case Review, yet John Merry hadn't mentioned any criticism of social workers to Jill Baker ("I didn't have the full facts in front of me") and Councillor John Warmisham hadn't mentioned any criticism of Mrs Baker to her in their weekly meetings, despite saying he had lost "trust and confidence" in her at the later disciplinary hearing.

"He was making it up" said Mrs Baker, adding "It was convenient for them if I left the Council at that time…"

The implication all along has been that Jill Baker was made a scapegoat to save the neck of others who should have been accountable and who should have resigned.

Mrs Baker's barrister asked whether John Merry had come across a report from a Professor Jones which was critical of Salford Council's Chief Executive, Barbara Spicer…

"I'm not aware of any criticism of Barbara Spicer" he replied.

Later the Council's barrister asked Jill Baker where the accountability lay for safeguarding Salford's children…

"With me for the quality of services" she replied, adding "John Merry said the buck stops with him and his Chief Executive – they are the top line of accountability."

Indeed, earlier, John Merry said "I was answerable, I have to take responsibility and have to take action…"

The hearing continues until Friday this week…

* Since 2006, the Salford Star has repeatedly called for the resignation of Jill Baker, when Director of Social Services; Councillor John Warmisham, when Lead Member for Children's Services; Barbara Spicer, as Chief Executive - whose responsibility was to ensure senior managers "accept and address concerns brought to their attention"…

…and John Merry, Leader of Salford City Council, whose responsibility was to "Ensure that the Council gives priority to safeguarding children coherently and consistently in service planning and resource allocation" (from Salford Council's own `safeguarding roles and responsibility' document amended in 2006). For full article see here…

See also Salford Star Calls for Resignations click here

See Salford Council Resignation Fall Out click here...

See OFSTED Slates Children's Services click here

See Salford Children's Services Meltdown click here

See Salford Social Services Slated click here
 

Salford Star wrote
at 12:14:29 AM on Wednesday, September 07, 2011
See Concerned Parent comment below...The case is continuing and is back in court in October. Hope this helps...
 
concerned parent wrote
at 12:10:14 AM on Wednesday, September 07, 2011
can Salford Start update the readership on this story, its all gone rather quite, it feels like the council has settled out of court, how much as this costs the tax payers??? concerned parent
 
A Salford Parent wrote
at 12:09:48 AM on Wednesday, September 07, 2011
Salford Childrens Services has now moved out of Minerva House and into the Salford Council Civic Centre. They now have no proper reception at Minerva house they had a large 50" TV in their reception and it was obvious they had lots of meetings. Now they cannot even organise school admissions competently. I think Schools and School admissions previously a task of the LEA (Local Education Authority)is a core requirement of 'Childrens Services' I expect that central government will soon have to takeover the running of Salford Council it is so dire. From bad to worse. John Merry and Barbara Slicer when can my children go to school ?
 
mary ferrer wrote
at 2:20:48 AM on Friday, September 02, 2011
One of the many things that worries me is, while all this "he said this and she did that" what is happening NOW within childrens services. The last Ofsted report said they were inadequate this was AFTER Merry and Spicer took over the responsibility of this department so they CAN'T get it right either. What is happening to our vunerable children have the council NOW got it right or are they still CRAP and if they are still crap what is happening within childrens services,because this has and still worries me greatly.
 
john wrote
at 2:37:29 PM on Saturday, August 20, 2011
I served on the appeals panel that heard this case originally, and whilst I was comfortable with the dismissal, I was not happy with the GROUNDS (ie gross misconduct) I felt at the time, and still feel, that dismissal on grounds of CAPABILITY would have been more appropriate.
 
Dave Young wrote
at 4:48:27 AM on Thursday, August 18, 2011
This time the bullshit , bluster and bluff carries on in open court , for all to witness , and not in a secret behind closed doors meeting .What an unsavoury bunch of back-stabbing hypocrites .No wonder this city is in such a disgraceful mess with inept goons like this lot in charge . All involved in this disgraceful business should be sacked , and no cosy pay-offs with council taxpayers money . GOOD RIDDANCE TO THE PARASITES .
 
Please enter your comment below:
 
 
 
Deli Lama
Salford Star photo stories
Cornerstone advert
Mary Burns Publishing
 
Contact us
phone: 07957 982960
Facebook       Twitter
 
 
Recent comments
article: SALFORD MAYOR REVEALS SALFORDS REDS £164,000 WAS TAKEN FROM FRONT LINE SERVICES
I travel to work past the stadium each day & I am baffled as to why I see the road being swept at 8am & when I pass again at 4pm i... [more]
article: SALFORD RED DEVILS FACING BAILIFFS FOR NON-PAYMENT OF KIT BILL
Mr Marwan Koukash has and never will have any money worries, because Ian stewert has said that the council is going to protect it... [more]
article: SALFORD MAYOR REVEALS SALFORDS REDS £164,000 WAS TAKEN FROM FRONT LINE SERVICES
A further comment of which "Garrido Out" has commented on... People in certain positions are now being caught out... The old schoo... [more]
article: SALFORD MAYOR REVEALS SALFORDS REDS £164,000 WAS TAKEN FROM FRONT LINE SERVICES
Mayor Ian Stewart is..... Confused.com !!!??? Make a good advert for them... This wasn't about the cleaning issue, that was just... [more]
article: SALFORD PHOTO ARCHIVE GIVEAWAY
Can anybody advise me please if Fenny street Higher Broughton, in particular no 40 has been developed?... [more]
 
 
 
 
 
Days
Hours
Minutes
Seconds
 
 
 

Donate

Help the Salford Star...

all donations welcome

 
 

More articles...

SALFORD RED DEVILS FACING BAILIFFS FOR NON-PAYMENT OF KIT BILL

Star date: 18th September 2014

A Salford Star Exclusive

SALFORD RUGBY CLUB GETS CCJ FROM SHIRT SUPPLIERS KOOGA

The Salford Star understands that yesterday, as Salford Mayor Ian Stewart was praising Salford Red Devils' owner Marwan Koukash in the Council chamber, a County Court Judgement (CCJ) was served on the rugby club by shirt suppliers Kooga over non-payment of a bill amounting to thousands of pounds.

"Those people who pay attention to these things know that the current owner of Salford Red Devils has invested over £1.5million of his own money into players and he intends to invest more, stabilising the club" said Stewart at the Council meeting.

Full details here...

SALFORD MAYOR REVEALS SALFORDS REDS £164,000 WAS TAKEN FROM FRONT LINE SERVICES

Star date: 17th September 2014

COUNCIL STREET CLEANING AND REFUSE SERVICES DIVERTED TO SALFORD RED DEVILS

Salford City Mayor Ian Stewart got himself in a right mess today trying to justify the handing of up to £164,000 towards Salford Red Devils' match day costs. First he told the full meeting of Salford Council that the money wasn't taken from the revenue budget which pays for services. Then he said it was.

The Salford Star can reveal that up to five staff from the Council's environment services have been directed to cleaning up after Salford Red Devils home matches, while street cleansing services around the city have been decimated.

Full details here...

SALFORD MAYOR GETS CHAUFFEURED BY DISABILITY TRANSPORT CUTS DRIVER

Star date: 16th September 2014

A Salford Star Exclusive

AS PARENTS FUME OVER TRANSPORT CUTS THEIR DRIVER CHAUFFEURS THE CEREMONIAL MAYOR

"I am totally disgusted...this is just another slap in the face" parent

While parents and carers of people with disabilities struggle with having their transport removed as part of brutal cuts to services, the Salford Star understands that one of the drivers of the specially adapted buses has been seconded to chauffeur the Ceremonial Mayor around the city for the week.

Today a High Court date of 15th October has been set for a judicial review into the cuts – but while Salford Council agreed to provide an interim transport service until the hearing, parents and carers are saying that this simply isn't happening.

Full details here...

WHIT LANE SALFORD REGENERATION FAILURE SURVEY

Star date: 16th September 2014

SALFORD COUNCIL – A `MENACE BOGGED DOWN IN FAILURE AND INCOMPETENCE'

The author of a research paper which absolutely blasted Salford City Council and co for the shocking failure of the regeneration of Whit Lane estate in East Salford is back, asking residents to speak out about their experiences in the `Forgotten Estate'.

Dr Andrew Wallace, a senior lecturer at the University of Lincoln, wrote how residents of Charlestown and Lower Kersal faced a "legacy of  injustice ...through inaction and failure", leaving a "decimated landscape" and a "casual disregard for residents and the limbo they have been forced to endure". Now he seeks those residents' views.

Full details here...

SALFORD AID WORKER ALAN HENNING HORROR

Star date: 15th September 2014

ECCLES AID WORKER IN UNISLAMIC STATE HORROR

People from Salford and throughout the world were horrified at the weekend when news showed the brutal execution of aid worker David Haines, followed by the parading of Alan Henning, an ex-cabbie and aid worker from Eccles, as the next potential victim of (Un)Islamic State. 

"A lot of people knew him and it's so sad and unbelievable when it's so close to home" said a Salford Star reader.

More details here...

 



written and produced by Salfordians for Salfordians
with attitude and love xxx