HEREFORDSHIRE council staff were too worried for the future of their careers to whistleblow, an extraordinary meeting of Herefordshire Council has been told.

Fears that staff felt unable to speak out against poor practice led to an amendment that all staff resigning from their positions at Herefordshire Council would be offered an exit review with an external interviewer being passed at the meeting, which was called to receive a damning judgement which found a raft of failures in the council's children's services department.

Proposer Councillor Paul Symonds told the April 27 meeting that he was astounded by the arrogance and acceptance within the council and that it was a fairly simple and straightforward policy which would offer some reassurance and could help councillors raise the alarm if necessary.

His views were shared by seconder, Coun Terry James, who said he was truly concerned by the exit interview process after speaking to former children's services staff members.

"I met someone who had left two years ago and they explained at some length what was wrong with the department," Coun James said.

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"I asked if she had made that clear at her exit interview and she said she had not as she might want to come back and work here again under a different council. She was frightened to say what she really thought and wanted to say because she had a living to make.

"I think whistleblowers get a bad time too often. People who tell the truth are very often the people who get the worst out of these situations. Their careers are destroyed and we need someone to get these former staff to tell us what is going wrong with the council's children's services."

The amendment was passed with 44 votes to adopt the policy and one abstention from Coun Trish Marsh.