Corporate Assessment and Joint Area Review for Wokingham Borough Council – Liberal Democrat Response

Wokingham Borough Council has received the verdict of two important Government inspections that assess how well the needs of the borough’s residents are met: the Audit Commission’s Corporate Assessment, and Ofsted’s Joint Area Review of all children’s services.

Councillor Prue Bray (Leader of the Lib Dem Councillor Group and councillor for Winnersh ward) said, “These reports are a wake-up call to the Tory executive. The Council’s rating has gone down from 3 stars to 2 stars, which is described as ‘at only minimum requirements’. The Council is going backwards compared to other councils, and huge changes must take place to stop the Council sliding any further.

“The most damning assessment is that the council’s arrangements for ‘safeguarding children and young people’ are inadequate –┬áit received the lowest score, just 1 point, putting Wokingham in the bottom 9 authorities in the country for protecting children. This is obviously a huge concern to us all, and one we expect the executive to take very seriously indeed. They must act immediately to protect our vulnerable children.

“The reports also highlight the Council’s failure to ensure ‘fair and equitable access to services’ for all our residents and flag up the need for more openness. The Liberal Democrats have frequently drawn attention to the atmosphere of secrecy in the Council and we hope that the Leader of the Council will now act to make the Council more inclusive and more open. He has said he is committed to this, but not enough has changed since he took over the role in May.

“Liberal Democrat councillors are keen to work with the Tory administration to put things right, and a good first step would be to include us in the Children and Young People’s Strategic Partnership so that we can contribute towards properly protecting our children and young people, an area in which the Conservative administration has shown itself to be ‘inadequate’. We should also be allowed to join the Local Strategic Partnership to improve inclusion and openness and to stop the secrecy that currently surrounds Council work.

“All councillors, whatever their political party, need to work together drawing up action plans that will put the Council on the right track. The Council Leader must use all the resources at his disposal to make the right decisions so that the Council starts to improve its performance.”

Published by Woodley & Whitegates Liberal Democrats, 26 Farriers Close Woodley, Reading RG5 3DD.

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