Kingston children services 'will not be sold off' promises council leader (From This Is Local London)
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Kingston children services 'will not be sold off' promises council leader
Kingston Council leader Liz Green has promised the borough’s children’s services will not be sold off to a private company after merging with Richmond.
Achieving for Children (AFC) has been set up as a social enterprise jointly owned by both authorities to provide the boroughs’ children’s services – in the shadow of Kingston safeguarding being rated inadequate by Ofsted.
But Liberal Democrats in Richmond have expressed fears that the borough’s ruling Tory party will eventually outsource the company to a private contractor free of council control.
Richmond Council leader Lord True has even publicly stated that the idea was a “possibility”.
But Coun Green said both administrations had to meet in the middle when it came to agreeing the future of AFC - which meant keeping the company fully-owned by the two councils.
Coun Green said: “We will not be selling off Kingston’s children’s services.
“I’m not even sure that you can. There are statutory duties to be undertaken.
“I have met with Lord True since becoming leader and I have probably been one of the more sceptical members on the AFC board.
“I do sometimes think Richmond get an idea in their heads and want to push ahead without taking the necessary steps.
“I know Richmond feel we’ve dragged our feet on this.
“It’s not moved ahead as quickly as they would have liked but not as slowly as we would have liked. We have ended up somewhere in the middle.”
But Coun Green’s Lib Dem counterpart Stephen Knight, leader of the opposition party in Richmond, said: “It’s clear the Conservatives in Richmond have always had the ambition, and I’ve seen nothing to suggest it is not still their ambition, to eventually float off the company.
“I think it was only the presence of Lib Dems in Kingston who have put the hold on that. The future will inevitably depend on the results of the elections next year.”
Conservative councillor Andrea Craig, Kingston’s opposition member for children’s health and wellbeing, accused councillor Knight of “scaremongering”.
Lord True was not available for comment.
AFC was last week handed £500,000 by the department for communities and local government to help fund ICT development and establish a centre of excellence for other authorities and public service providers.
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