Thurrock Council leader tries to reassure over whistleblower claims (despite not having read full report)

By Local Democracy Reporter
Steve Shaw

THE leader of Thurrock Council has said that people should be satisfied with the outcome of a whistleblower investigation, despite having not seen a full report.

Council leader Rob Gledhill said a full report into allegations that errors made by Children’s Services may have contributed to the death of a 23-month old could not be released because it contained “sensitive information”.

Gledhill

He admitted at a council meeting on Wednesday that he has not seen the report, which cleared the council of wrongdoing, but said everybody should be satisfied the council “acted appropriately” now that Ofsted had closed the case.

Group leaders were given the opportunity to look at a selection of documents that provided detailed information on the findings in the report but this took place just two hours before the meeting.

A similar problem occurred before the last cabinet meeting when the outcome of the investigation was rushed onto the meeting agenda, leaving the public and many councillors completely unaware that it would be discussed.

Councillor John Kent, leader of Thurrock Labour, said that while he was not given enough time to read the latest documents in full, they flag up areas of “clear concern”.

He said: “I believe that I do need to see the whole report to get the kind of assurance and comfort that I want and I understand that parts of that may need to be redacted.”

Mr Gledhill said the council does not have the freedom to say which documents can be made public.

“From the conversations I have had with the monitoring officer and the Chief Executive, I feel the information given out satisfies me, not because it was given to me by officers but also because Ofsted feel there is no more required of us than what we are doing at the moment,” he said.

“If Ofsted says everything is fine then I am happy with that.”

The cause of the toddler’s death has never been established but police have concluded there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding it. A coroner has claimed the cause was “unknown”.

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