A COUNCIL chief has deflected blame towards a former director of services for the catastrophic failings in protecting vulnerable children.

Ruth Bagley, chief executive of Slough Borough Council, was put under the spotlight and asked why more was not done to prevent the continued failings found across three appalling Ofsted reports of its children’s services department, during a scrutiny panel meeting on Wednesday.

Councillor Natasa Pantelic, chair of the education and children’s service scrutiny panel, asked Ms Bagley if she felt she should have challenged officers more effectively, during a discussion about the latest Ofsted report published last month.

Ms Bagley said: “It’s not that I didn’t have concerns and it’s not that I didn’t act on those concerns but we were hampered by the quality of the information. I was challenging the then director.

"In the later part of 2014 she went on sick leave and we had more capacity to challenge after that.

“The information I had access to was the same reports that scrutiny and the council had access to.”

Tory cllr Wayne Strutton, said Ms Bagley gave a “very similar excuse” after an ‘inadequate’ Ofsted rating in 2011 which Clair Pyper, children’s services director at the time, was heavily criticised for.

Ms Pyper left the council in February 2012.

He said: “Ruth uses the excuse she’s not trained in children’s services and that she relies totally on what she is told.

"She has the final decision, she needs to be strong enough to make the relevant decisions, along with the leader of the council, on whether or not those directors are capable.

“If they are are not willing to stand up to these people they are equally responsible for prolonging the suffering of children in Slough.”

During the meeting cllr Pantelic raised concerns about Slough Children's Trust providing evidence in order to facilitate scrutiny by the council.

Despite the trust being an independent body that reports directly to the DfE with no obligation to report to the council, it was agreed that the improvement plan the trust will be submitting to Ofsted in May will be made available to the council.

It was also agreed the council will be involved with the appointment of a permanent director of children’s services.

Recommendations were made to the Local Safeguarding of Children Board (LSCB) to ensure representatives of each of the agencies involved were the “right people sitting around the table".