I once described Bexley’s cabinet member for Children’s Services, Philip Read,
as a piece of filth. I regretted it afterwards but I had seen him in action too many times and was tipped over the edge.
It was nothing to do with him making up the story that put blogger John Kerlen behind bars for 24 hours before a judge came to his rescue or the fact that he repeatedly ridiculed his Labour shadow, councillor Mabel Ogundayo, for being young and female. (I was always waiting for him to add “black” but he never quite went that far.)
The last straw was the correspondence and ultimately arranged meeting with a group of parents who had lost children to Philip Read’s department and I heard their stories at first hand. The constant theme was that Bexley’s social services were spiteful liars. I saw some of the evidence. Good mothers who separated from abusive partners did not have their children returned - and they still haven’t. Other parents, forewarned, were planning to move out of the borough - and subsequently did.
At the other extreme, at least two Bexley children have died because Social Workers ignored reports from teachers and heath professionals. (†) When OFSTED rated Bexley’s Children’s Services as Inadequate, no one at the top level lost their job and there have been persistent rumours to the effect that the Deputy Director is protected by being best mates with Teresa O’Neill. Her former boss was given the job of writing the Serious Case Review. They certainly know how to demonstrate that things are open and above board in Bexley. Keeping it in the family only applies to cover ups.
Nothing is open and above board in Bexley.
About three months ago a reader sent me an FOI response to a question on Bexley’s Social Services. The figures didn’t seem to add up unless Social Workers are being paid at Director level. I sent it to Mabel Ogundayo to see if she could explain it to me. She couldn’t but offered to find the answer. Since then she has only been able to apologise for the continuing ‘no answer’. It is not only residents who are given the runaround by Bexley’s Children’s Services.
Under cabinet member Philip Read changes have been made within the department. As you may imagine it’s not easy to attract staff to a borough with a reputation that has fallen through the floor. The vacancy levels in Social Services have exceeded 50%. In some ways it sounds a good idea to start to train your own staff to fill the gaps but on the other hand there will be no experience. Given Bexley’s history maybe that is no bad thing but one still doesn’t hear anything good about Social Workers. The following is typical of messages I occasionally receive…
I can tell you from personal experience, hand on heart, that in the community of people who have had experience of social workers - myself included - it is a frighteningly common experience to find social workers lying outright without shame. And on two separate occasions I have been surprised to see that judges turn a blind eye if they are presented with such evidence! I'm sure they scratch each other's backs.
I made my own complaint about a Social Worker last August. It followed some complete nonsense meted out to my elderly aunt in Newham. I have had no formal response but Newham council has phoned a couple of times to apologise for the lack of progress. When the Social Worker was confronted by my complaint she fled the room and has not been seen since.
Maybe they are all as bad as each other. The following case posted to YouTube on Christmas Day would suggest that Bexley council has learned nothing since the bad old days of former councillor Katie Perrior under whose guidance Children’s Services all went badly wrong.
You really should spend 14 minutes with this video. Further evidence that Bexley council wrecks people’s lives and is happy to do so.
Maybe the Social Workers are inexperienced or incompetent but the end result is the same as if misery for all was Philip Read’s hobby.
After co-opting the police this Bexley couple were arrested on allegations that proved to be false. It was recommended that if they were to stand any chance of getting their children back they should plead guilty to criminal charges, but the parents refused to do so.
They were tried and acquitted in the Crown Court, the evidence was clearly false, but still they cannot get their children back. Bexley council doesn’t care. They even contacted the wife’s employer in an effort to get her out of a job.
The children keep running home to their parents which gets the parents into trouble, the Social Worker threatens them with jail, but Bexley council is incapable of anything but injustice. When pressed for a defence the parents are told that the fact they are devout Christians goes against them. “Christianity is all fake’ according to Bexley’s Social Services.
Obviously calling Philip Read a piece of filth was wrong, but too many Social Workers appear to be. BiB’s headline of Dishonest, Vindictive, Criminal would appear to be as true of Bexley council today as it was in 2009 when it was first adopted.
† Rhys Lawrie died from 39 injuries in 2011 and Ndingeko Kunene suffered another “preventable death” last year.