THE Government is being urged to take charge of Wirral children's services after the department became engulfed in another crisis.
Fall-out is building at the town hall after a shocking court case in which two brothers were jailed for 40 years for child sexual exploitation.
Over a five-year campaign Ilavarasan and Vinothan Rajenthiram groomed and sexually abused vulnerable young girls from Wirral.
They received lengthy jail sentences at Liverpool Crown Court earlier this week.
The day before sentence was passed - and reporting restrictions lifted - cabinet member in charge of child safeguarding Cllr Tony Smith was sacked by his Labour group leader Cllr Phil Davies.
Within hours director of children's services Julia Hassall had resigned.
In the aftermath of the trial Cllr Davies and Dr Maggie Atkinson - new chairwoman of Wirral’s Safeguarding Children’s Board - insist "lessons have been learned."
But new leader of the Tory group Cllr Ian Lewis remains far from convinced and wants a Government intervention.
At last night's meeting of the full council he said: "This week the leader's rhetoric has finally met the reality of this council's failure to keep children safe.
"By almost every measure, his administration has failed.
"At what point does he think he should take responsibility?
“We have zero confidence in the ability of this administration to sort out this mess.
"It is now time for the Government to step in, appoint commissioners and force this council to get a grip."
He added: "In the space of a few days the cabinet member and the director have been thrown under the bus.
"The buck does not stop there. It stops with the people they reported to - the leader of the council and his chief executive, both of whom have so far been silent."
Councillor Davies is proposing a "cross-party task force" for children’s services.
He said: "While it’s good that justice has been done and these men are starting long prison sentences, our thoughts remain with the victims and their families.
"The key thing now is to learn the lessons from this appalling case and do everything in our power to ensure that will not happen again.
"An independent, comprehensive investigation into the role of public services in the care of these children is already underway through a serious case review which will report later in the summer.
"I remain firmly of the view that the issues we are dealing with around vulnerable children should be the council’s number one priority."
The council leader stressed: "We must be honest enough to own up where mistakes have been made in the past but be equally resolute to put things right.
"I would appeal to all members in this chamber to put party differences to one side and work together to take this service forward."
The latest crisis should be viewed in the context of a highly-critical Ofsted inspection of children's services published last September.
The national watchdog found "serious and wide-spread failings" giving the department its lowest possible rating - "inadequate."