Agenda and minutes

Venue: Online meeting

Contact: Matthew Evans, Democratic Services 

Link: Watch this meeting live on the Herefordshire Council YouTube Channel

No. Item



To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Tracey Bowes and Nigel Shaw.



To receive declarations of interest in respect of Schedule 1, Schedule 2 or Other Interests from members of the Council in respect of items on the agenda.


There were no declarations of interest.



To receive questions from members of the public.

Deadline for receipt of questions is 5:00pm on Wednesday 21 April 2021.

At extraordinary meetings of Council questions must relate to reports on the agenda.

Accepted questions and answers will be published as a supplement prior to the meeting. Please send questions to

Additional documents:


A copy of the public questions and written answers, together with supplementary questions asked at the meeting and their answers, is attached to the Minutes at Appendix 1.



To receive a report on the Judgement of The Hon Mr Justice Keehan, following recent children’s social care proceedings heard in the Family Division of the Royal Courts of Justice regarding a family known to Herefordshire Council since 2010. This Judgement was published at 14.00hrs on 16th April 2021.


In accordance with Part 4 paragraph 4.1.13 of the Council’s constitution, the Acting Joint Chief Executives requested, on behalf of cabinet, the Monitoring Officer to a call an extraordinary meeting of the Council due to the public interest in these matters.


This report summarises the issues raised in the judgement and sets out a strategy for assuring the current social care service is safe in the immediate term and then improves in the future

Additional documents:


Council considered a report by the Acting Joint deputy Chief Executives and the Interim Director Children Services concerning the High Court judgement April 2021 relating to Children and Families.


The report and recommendations were proposed and introduced by the Leader. He apologised to the children and families failed by the actions of the local authority that had been the focus of the High Court judgement. He explained that there had been longstanding failures of leadership at the council that were being addressed with the appointment of a new Chief Executive and the appointment of an interim Director of Children’s Services. He referred to the Secretary of State appointment of a Department for Education (DFE) advisor and the requirement for cultural change at the council.


During the course of the debate the following points were raised:


·         The findings of the judgement were shocking and upsetting and the council needed to restore faith in children’s services;

·         The role of all councillors as corporate parents and the need to insist upon improvement for the benefit of looked after children;

·         The difficult working relationship with children’s services and the need to change a culture of evasion and lack of transparency;

·         An acknowledgement that there were excellent social workers in Herefordshire who needed help and support.

·         Recommendations and learning from earlier judgements that had not been applied or implemented;

·         The root-and-branch approach to achieve improvement and change were welcomed and the funding that would be required was acknowledged. It was hoped there would be assistance from local MPs to secure government support.

·         The planned reviews needed to identity and highlight bad practice to facilitate cultural change;

·         The role and accountability of cabinet members on the Council;

·         The importance of scrutiny and the requirement for greater training of scrutiny members. The requirement for members of the children and young people scrutiny committee to be updated on current issues of significance. Councillors were provided with significant data regarding the performance of children’s services but without fully understanding the detail;

·         A culture existed across children’s, legal and democratic services at the council to block access to information;

·         The outcomes of the task and finish group in 2019 in response to the 2018 judgement and recommendations that had not been implemented;

·         Elected members had felt that they were not listened to and should have been more forthright in raising concerns. Improvements were necessary to ensure that members were listened to;

·         Longstanding issues had been identified in previous Ofsted judgements, over the previous 10 years, which included a lack of supervision of frontline staff and poor record keeping;

·         The review of all cases in the system would be a long process that could take 3 – 5 years;

·         The need for appropriate checks and balances to support social workers;

·         Improvements to processes concerning the provision of legal advice in complex cases and work to improve the contact between legal and social workers;

·         The role of Independent Reviewing Officers (IROs) and the need to review the effectiveness of the service;

·         The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 59.