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Kate Ferguson, Reporter
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
The deputy leader of Haringey Council has denied her resignation is linked to a damning report published about children’s services in the borough.
Cllr Lorna Reith announced she was stepping down as deputy leader and lead member for children’s services for personal reasons just days after an independent report into the service was published last Thursday (April 27).
It revealed a series of blunders by social services left children in a filthy home despite repeated warnings they were suffering.
But she denied her departure was linked to the devastating revelations and insisted the children’s services department has made “significant progress” since the case came to light in April 2009.
Cllr Reith, who took up her post at the end of 2008 after the Baby Peter Connelly scandal, said the failings in the case were “historic”.
“My decision is nothing to do with the report, I made it some time ago,” she said. “I completely acknowledge this family was let down by social services.
“At the time our children’s services were in a bad way. We have been upfront about that. It is not a coincidence that that case happened at the same time as Baby Peter’s.
“Since then we have made fundamental changes.”
Cllr Reith stopped short of saying she is confident the blunders in the case will not be repeated, but said the department is “working to ensure such a case cannot happen again”.
Despite Cllr Reith’s protestations that her departure is not linked to the report, its findings are a blow to Haringey Council.
The local authority has struggled to shake its reputation for failing vulnerable children in the wake of the deaths of Victoria Climbie in 2000 and Baby P in 2007.
The ruling Labour group at Haringey Council have remained tight-lipped over Cllr Reith’s replacement, who will be appointed on May 21.
Cllr Reith will continue to serve as a Tottenham Hale ward councillor.