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‘We want to clear our names’

 
Created on 19/06/2018 @ 11:45
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Former Llandrinio County Councillor Graham Brown and ex-leader Barry Thomas have lodged a formal complaint against Powys County Council for failing to retract a statement from its chief executive about the under-fire children’s services.

Mr Brown was Powys County Council’s children’s services portfolio holder but stepped down as a councillor at the 2017 elections after 30 years of service. Mr Thomas, from Llanfihangel, also stepped down at the same time to “take a break from local Government”.

However, both came in for a scathing attack from chief executive Jeremy Patterson, on the back of the damming children's services report last year. 

The report, in October, raised grave concerns across the county after it found children were put at serious risk of harm. 

In a statement to a council meeting at the time, the chief executive gave a statement stating he was struggling to get the support of the pair when they were in office and he did not get clarity about issues in the children's services, which led to a delay in it getting matters resolved.

Now, according to a report in the Shropshire Star, the pair have said the statements are false as the chief executive was made aware of concerns from a consultancy report and he knew moves were being made to turn the service around. 

They have been demanding a retraction statement from the council, but have had limited communication. 

They believe the statement has tarnished their reputations, and it has stopped Mr Brown from setting up consultancy work. 

He told the newspaper: “He is pointing the finger at us saying the issues weren’t addressed sooner, but that isn't the case. 

“We feel our reputations have been tarnished, like we've been thrown us under the bus.

“He knew that things had been put in place to improve the service on the back of the consultancy report. 

“His statement was damning as it pointed the finger, and it stated we had a lack of leadership, which is untrue. 

“We want the statement retracted. 

“I am trying to establish positions with consultancy and training firms, but I can't as I have been accused of being un supportive and lacking leadership in my own role.”

On the back of the damaging report in October last year, the council pledged millions of pounds to turn things around and improvements are being made. 

Days after the statement to the full council, Mr Patterson was off on sick leave and is yet to return to his post. 

The pair have instructed a solicitor who has unsuccessfully tried to set up a meeting with the council, and they are now lodging a formal complaint.

Mr Brown added: “We feel like our hand as been forced, we didn't want to do it this way. 

“We feel like we have been scapegoated for this, and we want the truth to come out.”

Deputy Chief Executive, David Powell responded: “The county council can confirm that it has received correspondence from solicitors acting on behalf of former councillors Barry Thomas and Graham Brown. A response is being prepared and will be sent in due course.”

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