Ongoing failure to reform Herefordshire’s children’s services is “an outrage”, a senior political figure in the county has said.

Jesse Norman, Conservative MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire until Parliament was dissolved ahead of the general election, said he had witnessed what amounted to “a colossal failure in accountability” in cases raised with him by local families.

“It’s an absolute outrage that I have constituents who are in this kind of pain, and we are unable to make local authorities make the difference when it’s in their power to do so,” he told an election hustings in Hereford devoted to the children’s services issue.


“The hiding and bureaucratic tricks are unacceptable.”

In a rare moment of cross-party agreement, Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Green, Reform UK and independent election candidates all backed a call for independent scrutiny of the department’s failings, which some likened to the Post Office / Horizon scandal.

Responding to Mr Norman, Labour’s Joe Emmett said: “It’s good to see you angry Jesse, but you have been MP for the last 14 years and this has been going on a long time.”

He said the care system in the county “is too top-down, with too many managers on insane amounts of money, some not even in-situ”.

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His party colleague Jon Browning said he would “help those here connect with the new government we will have on July 5”.

LibDem candidate Cat Hornsey said: “It’s the children who suffer, and they hold that with them for the rest of their lives.

“I will fight for whatever it takes to get the truth out.”

The LibDem group on the county council “has had meeting after meeting” with officials, fellow party candidate Dan Powell said. “But there is no accountability in Herefordshire and that needs to change.”


Green candidate Ellie Chowns said an independent regulator “would help, but a lot more needs to be done to support families early on”.

Independent candidate Mark Weadon said: “We have to break the cycle, not vote for the same thing.”

Mr Norman also claimed that children’s commissioner Eleanor Brazil, appointed by the government as part of the process to reform the department, “had said she would meet affected families, yet I’m certain she never did anything”, and accused her of being “woefully short of decent qualities”.