Troubled children's service improving in Cornwall
The councillor in charge of Cornwall's troubled safeguarding children unit has vowed "I will overspend" if necessary to keep improving services.
Neil Burden was speaking as an inspection of the service revealed it was now judged "adequate" bringing to an end a seven-year period of it languishing in the doldrums.
However, with budget cuts to the larger department of £7 million looming, the lead member for children's services, said he would put services first.
"It will be challenging," he said. "I'm prepared to overspend.
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"You cannot put a closed sign on a children's centre."
Mr Burden went on to say the budget restrictions were difficult: "But what is more important in this country, our children or a pothole?"
The publication of yesterday's Ofsted report delivered good news for the council, whose child protection unit was put in a form of special measures in 2006 and subject to a formal Government intervention in 2009. The seven-year stretch is believed to be the longest period a council service has been deemed unfit.
Trevor Doughty, Cornwall's director of children's services, said the unit officially remained in intervention, however he was optimistic this would change.
"To be in intervention for seven years is something that is not acceptable to anyone and that's why we have been trying so hard to turn it around," he said.
The unannounced visit by the Ofsted team last month represented the first time Cornwall's children's services had been subject to scrutiny under a harsh new inspection regime.
Mr Doughty said the department was pleased to be lifted to "adequate" and despite hard work across the board, increasing "two jumps" to "good" was unrealistic.
However, he said that was where they were heading.
"The work is not complete. We want to get to 'good' and then to 'outstanding.'"
Jack Cordery, head of service for children's social work and psychology, said the inspection has been encouraging and found buoyant levels of morale and energy.
However, he said no-one was about to rest on their laurels.
"There is nobody here who thinks it's job done. It's job half done and there's a lot more to do but we are committed to doing it."
The report by Ofsted highlights the success in the way services have evolved.
It says: "The overall effectiveness of local authority arrangements to protect children in Cornwall is adequate.
"Significant progress has been made by the local authority and its partners in tackling the deep rooted problems which led to safeguarding arrangements being judged inadequate by Ofsted in the safeguarding and looked after children's inspections in 2009 and 2011."