There will be “no quick fixes” to Herefordshire’s children’s services problems, the new commissioner appointed by the Government to sort out the troubled department has said.

“This is not a matter of a quick fix, it won’t happen over a period of a few months,” Eleanor Brazil told a meeting of senior councillors yesterday (September 29), following publication last week of a damning Ofsted report rating the department as “inadequate”.

“People talk about a period of 18 months to three years depending on the circumstances,” she said. “There is no one thing that will make a difference here – though there are things that we know do make a difference.”


Ms Brazil will assess the department’s current “direction of progress”, before giving a recommendation to education secretary Kit Malthouse towards the end of the year.

“I will also want to know what is happening to children and families newly coming to the service for support,” she said. “We don’t want to compound the situation by getting it wrong for those children and their families.

“I will also look at what remedial work that the service will be taking in relation to those children whose experience of the council has not been as good as it should have been.”

She cautioned: “I am contracted to work for two days a week. I don’t live very locally, so can’t visit as frequently as I would like.

“I come with no assumptions about what the solutions for Herefordshire might be – though there are a limited range of options.”

Independents for Herefordshire group leader Coun John Harrington responded: “We now have until December to satisfy the DfE (department for education) that we can carry forward the plans we have in place. We have to get this right. Nothing else counts, in terms of politics or policies, other than getting this right.”

He asked cabinet member for children’s and family services Coun Diana Toynbee: “I want to get your assurance, and you have our assurance, that that is the focus. Am I correct about that timeline?”

Coun Toynbee replied: “Absolutely, we’ve got to get on with it.”

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