Campaigners in Herefordshire have welcomed Ofsted's highly critical inspection of the county's children's services published today (September 21), saying it vindicates claims they have long been making.

Coun Terry James, group leader of the council’s Liberal Democrats and former leader of the council, called it “the lowest point that Herefordshire Council has been in for 25 years”.

“I have been warning about this for years, but was pooh-poohed,” he said.

“Even now, no one is prepared to take the blame, to be accountable. Certain council members should now consider their position.”

He welcomed the Government's appointment of Eleanor Brazil as commissioner to oversee the department between now and Christmas, saying: “She worked for Herefordshire Council some years ago, and is well-respected.”

But Ofsted’s report only gives a partial picture of the situation, as it “doesn’t even cover the experience of families, who weren’t interviewed”, Coun James said. “Some families have been treated appallingly.”

And he said he expected “a lot of people in the gallery” when the council convenes an extraordinary meeting to discuss the report next Friday (September 30).


Angeline, whose surname we are not using for legal reasons, runs the A Common Bond group for Herefordshire parents affected by the department.

She said she was “over the moon” to see many of the findings in the Ofsted report.

“Everything we have been saying is in there – the lack of management and social workers, the high case loads, the high turnover, the failure to deal with domestic abuse,” she said. “Yet we were treated as the enemy.”

The report says that many strategy meetings, where agencies, but not parents, determine what is to happen to children of concern, “are delayed, sometimes for several days, leaving children in situations of unassessed risk and ongoing harm”.

But Angeline said such meetings “can in fact be delayed for months”, with parents and children facing prolonged uncertainty.

She also expressed confidence that Ms Brazil “will now turn things around”, adding: “I want to meet her soon to put across our concerns.”