Red faces for Leeds council team after public telling-off from watchdog

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A LEEDS CITY COUNCIL watchdog has issued an embarrassing public dressing down to the authority’s children’s services department after being presented with what it considered a poor piece of work.

A meeting of the council’s cross-party Children and Families Scrutiny Board - an internal watchdog - was supposed to debate a report about the city’s youth services provision.

But instead chairman Judith Chapman, a Lib Dem councillor, refused to accept the document - which was presented in several separate parts - and told officers to go back to the drawing board.

She also lashed out at the apparent lack of respect shown for the internal scrutiny process, and said she will take her concerns further.

There was pin-drop silence as the team filed out of the room after the embarrassing telling off.

The incident happened as the team was called forward to present its report on Youth Activity Funding, requested by the scrutiny panel as part of its investigation into the delivery of youth services in Leeds.

The city has a budget of £500,000 in 2014/15, which will pay for the promotion of and commissioning of activities for 8-17 year olds.

In May last year, the delivery of these services was allocated to local Area Committees, now known as Community Committees.

Addressing the meeting on behalf of the whole panel, councillor Chapman deferred the report to December, and told the department: “The report is not up to standard.

“We started working on this in 2012 and by now we really should have had a report that was ready for use.

“We spent a lot of time bringing it to standard, we sent it back to the originators, I had three briefings on this alone.”

She said she was “concerned” officers were “not working together on this and there seems to be a lack of information going down to the community committees”.

“At the best the department have been naive, and at worst they have had total disregard for the scrutiny process,” she said.

“The board works hard. This report needs to answer all the questions and I want one briefing, one report with no excuses.”

She said she will be raising further concerns about “devolved powers going to community committees” and whether they have enough information to be able to perform their new duties.

Coun Andrew Carter

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