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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Labour Council Blames Tory Government For Its Own Failures

Southampton Independents campaigner Denise Wyatt wrote the following letter to the Daily Echo.

The online version is here, with links to other Echo articles on the funding of schools.

The original version of Denise's letter is below.

"I read today's Echo with interest, as I and my Southampton Independent colleague Councillor Andrew Pope had been contacted by parents and the headteachers of schools across Southampton. We met with those parents and headteachers.
The problems are not limited to just SEN schools.
As the Echo has reported at February Full Council, mainstream schools had their funding changed - not by the Conservative Government but by the Labour-run Council. Schools were told one thing by the Council and then the Council did another. They are furious with the Council.
Prior to that, the SEN provision in the City had not been properly forecast by the Council. And massive unplanned expenditure of millions of pounds resulted.
It seems that the Council doesn't have a grip on its schools, or on their funding, just like it doesn't have a grip on the safeguarding of children.
This is unsurprising perhaps when the current Chief Executive Ms Baxendale has presided over several Directors of Children Services and Labour has changed the Cabinet members for education and safeguarding many times over the last five years. The latest incumbent Labour Councillor Paffey doesn't have a grip, as neither did his predecessor former Cllr Jeffrey.
And no wonder OFSTED came back recently to inspect Southampton City Council. The Tories were no better when they were "in charge" of the Council.
It's just another case or Labour or Tory, same old story.
And it's one blaming the other, rather than parents and children getting the education and facilities they deserve - the best.
Best wishes,
Denise Wyatt
Southampton Independents"

Monday, 13 March 2017

Air Pollution: Your views on Southampton Labour Council's Ideas

What do you think of Southampton's Labour-run Council ideas to tackle air pollution below?

It comes after they have been "in control" of Southampton City Council for almost five years, since May 2012.

They have dithered and wrote documents. Then wrote more documents.

They have approved even more warehouses, especially in the Redbridge area.

It seems to have been all talk and no do.

So the following is taken from the public Council document "Frequently Asked Questions" about the "Clean Air Zone" idea they have had, which they claim will be done to improve air pollution in Southampton.

It is quoted verbatim.

We Independents aren't sure it will happen.

And we aren't sure that even it does happen, that it will have much of an effect.

But don't just take our word for it.

Neither does the University of Southampton, according to their research Matt Loxham, when he appeared on the BBC recently.

What do you think?

Post below or Contact Us using the details on the left.


Here it is:

  • Why are we introducing a Clean Air Zone?
Like many cities Southampton experiences poor air quality, much of this is caused by road transport.  DEFRA published the UK Air Quality Plan in December 2015. The document identifies Southampton as one of five cities which will be required to implement penalty charges for the most polluting HGV’s, buses and taxis when the mandatory zone comes in to force in 2019.

  • What does it mean?
We are advised that the anticipated standards expected for the clean air zones will be as follows:
Vehicle type
NOx emissions limit
Euro VI
Euro VI
Euro 6 (diesel) Euro 4 (petrol)

Map of proposed Southampton Clean Air Zone
All major arterial roads in Southampton will be included

  • How can I avoid the charge?
If your HGV, bus, taxi meets the emission standard there will be no charge.
Private Cars are exempt from the charge.
The level of charges for noncompliant vehicles will be determined by the Government at a later stage.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Council's Child Protection Crisis Continues!

Southampton City Council has faced constant criticism over recent years, whether the Labour Party has been "in charge" of the Council or the Conservative Party has been "in charge". A list of some of the criticisms is at the bottom of this article.

Southampton Independents have been dealing with an increasing number of cases of protecting children from harm, including harm caused by the neglect of Southampton City Council.

One Redbridge family who asked us Independents to help them to protect a child and their family say:
"This Labour Council is a risk to children and their families.
For months, officers of the Council ignored us. The child ended up in hospital.
OFSTED need to come back!
Andrew and Denise fought for us to better protect the child.
Labour is failing families."
The case was referred by us, with the permission of the family, to OFSTED, who inspect Council services. OFSTED confirmed they would add the issues of the case to what they would look at when they next inspected the Council.

The issues included the lack of responses from the Council to the family, and the lack of response to Independent Councillor Andrew Pope when he raised the issues on behalf of the family.

The Labour Leader of the Council, Councillor Simon Letts, said at the time, and we quote:

"Contacting Ofsted in these circumstances makes you look ridiculous."

Do you agree that we did the right thing?

And do you agree that the Leader of the Council brings the Council into disrepute by saying such a thing?

Southampton Independents have been dealing with other cases where children's health and wellbeing have been put at risk by the Council's neglect.

Independent campaigner Denise Wyatt, an expert on local government, the welfare system and the protection of the vulnerable, says:

Denise Wyatt
"There have been many critical reports by the local Daily Echo and Hampshire Chronicle, going over many years, but neither Labour nor Tory seem to have been able to protect children, which they are legally and morally obliged to do."
Some of the failures by Southampton City Council, and which party was supposed to be "in charge" of protecting children, are listed below.

Independent Councillor Andrew Pope said:

"The many criticisms are the verdicts of the local media, the Lottery, the Crown Prosecution Service and OFSTED.  
Why has it been left by Southampton's Labour and Conservative parties to these external bodies to expose their failings?  
Why haven't successive Labour and Tory councils addressed the very serious safety issues? 
Is it because they prefer to cover up rather than clean up?
The fact that they've failed to answer my questions adequately, in public and in private, suggests that they prefer to cover up. 
Southampton Independents will continue to expose the failings of Southampton City Council on safeguarding and other issues facing the residents of our City."


Litany of Failures of Successive Councils over Years (click the links for more info):

11th November 2016 (Labour has a majority on the Council. That is, they "run" the Council):

"Senior childcare manager Kim Drake quits just hours before major child services shake-up"

There have been many changes in the Director of Children's Services position over recent years. This was the latest one, and we understand that Ms Drake and someone claiming to be her "partner" did not seem to be too pleased with the situation, judging by comments on the Echo website at the time.

"The authority has twice the number of children in care than the national average."

"Independent Redbridge ward councillor Andrew Pope said: 'After many years, there continue to be very serious problems with the council's Children's Services.'

"Neither the Conservatives, nor Labour, have addressed these problems and children continue to be put at risk by the council's failures."

18th August 2016 (Labour has a majority on the Council):

"Southampton won't get £10m to improve children's mental health project due to "poor leadership" at council"

"LOTTERY bosses have blamed poor leadership at Southampton City Council after they refused a bid for £10million for youth mental health services."

23rd January 2016 (Labour has a majority on the Council):

"City council chiefs have confessed that social services workers, teachers and those in council run community services all ignored glaring signs that the sisters, aged seven and two at the time, were being severely neglected at home."

29th May 2014 (Labour has a majority on the Council, case referred to 2011 when the Conservatives were "in charge" of child protection):

"Southampton social services have been condemned in fresh reports into deaths and abuse of vulnerable children in their care"

"In 2011 Labour criticised the Tory administration for relying too heavily on agency staff to flesh out social services jobs.

But the reports released today confirm these failings continued after Labour won back control in 2012, with two cases occurring in late 2012 and early 2013."

18th November 2013 (Labour has a majority on the Council):

"Shake-up for Southampton City Council social services in wake of children's deaths and damning Ofsted report"

"COUNCIL chiefs have vowed to carry out a major shake-up of social services in Southampton after inspectors branded them “inadequate” at a time when four children died in the city."

30th May 2014 (Labour has a majority on the Council, case referred to 2011 when the Conservatives were "in charge" of child protection):

"Crown Prosecution Service to revisit case of Shelly Adams following a damning review of her care of Bradley and Jayden Adams"

"(Conservative) Cllr Jeremy Moulton, who was in charge of children’s services in 2011, said this was something that should change..."

"Cllr Mark Chaloner, Cabinet member for children’s safeguarding since last December, said some members of the social services leadership team had left their jobs after performance reviews.

He said: “The people who were in charge at the time of these cases are no longer in charge but that was part of a natural change looking at events that occurred across two or more years.”

The OFSTED reports on Southampton City Council are listed on their website here.