It is with sadness and regret I have made the decision to resign as Chairman of the Children and Young People’s Select Committee at West Sussex. Following Ofsted’s recent inspection of Children’s Services at the authority, I had hoped to champion member’s voices through the Select Committee on the critical improvement journey over the coming months and years.
However, in the last week much has been made of the role of scrutiny and any part it has had to play in the failings of the service. It is my view that scrutiny has been both challenging and robust from the Committee, but I also fully accept that where there were failings we must accept responsibility and own up to our weaknesses so that they may not be repeated in the future. The Oftsed report highlights that scrutiny at the authority ‘was not sufficiently rigorous’ and it is important for the Committee to accept and recognise this, and work to find ways of measuring the ‘real’ impact and outcomes of the statistics it is presented with, and to satisfy themselves as to the accuracy of any reported progress.
I have regrettably come to the conclusion that whilst I remain as the Chairman an argument over scrutiny threatens to overshadow all the other areas of the Ofsted report, and I do not wish it to become a distraction from the vital improvement work that needs to be done. The critical points raised in Ofsted’s report must all be addressed as matter of urgency and I do not wish the focus of the council to be on naval-gazing and process; I have therefore taken the decision to step down from the role, effective immediately.
Since my appointment to the Chairmanship in 2015, and previously as Vice Chairman from 2013, I have built up a detailed knowledge of the service and I will continue to advise and help the Leadership, Cabinet Members and new Chairman when required. I have made some great friends in the Service and I have have witnessed first hand excellent work well over and above job descriptions being undertaken by the workforce day in, day out. I am honoured to have had the chance to work with you all and humbled by the vital work you do. Thank you.
I attached the full text of my resignation letter below. EDIT: I have now also uploaded the formal response received from the Leader which contains some very kind words for which I am grateful