TORIES have fired a broadside at the Labour leader of Wirral Council after it was revealed he will be travelling to China on a trade mission amid a crisis in children's care services.

The political heat in the wake of a highly-critical Ofsted inspection into Wirral's child safeguarding has been turned up after the announcement Cllr Phil Davies is flying to the Far East on October 23 in a bid to help grow the borough's economy.

Councillor Davies has pledged that righting "serious and widespread failings" identified in the national watchdog's review is now his number one priority - and he expects major improvements to be delivered at pace.

But Conservative councillor Ian Lewis believes the leader's planned overseas absence has undermined those assurances.

He said: “What on earth is Cllr Davies thinking?

"His leadership of the council and that of his senior directors has been slammed as inadequate by Ofsted.

"Yet he decides to carry on as if it’s business as usual.

"Almost a case of 'crisis, what crisis?'

"I’m not sure whether he is deluded or just badly advised."

Councillor Lewis continued: “The damning and alarming report into how vulnerable children have been neglected by his administration surely demands his immediate and full attention.

"Above all we need him to lead. He can't do that if he's in a different time zone on the other side of the planet.

"A trip to China at this time is the last thing he should be thinking of."

The Conservative group has now fired-off a letter to the Government minister for vulnerable children, Edward Timpson MP, saying: "We have no faith in this council’s capacity to act. Indeed it is delusional to believe that those who have overseen this deterioration will now be able to reverse it."

The letter is reprinted in full at the end of this article.

Councillor Davies hit back: “Improving children’s services could not be more important to this authority.

"I have been frank with everyone in the council – members and officers – I expect major and sustainable improvements to be delivered at pace.

“Earlier this week I held extremely productive meetings with officials from the Department for Education.

"They acknowledged our commitment to improvement, agreed with our immediate plans and shared our confidence that we can make the necessary progress.

"I have established an Improvement Board where I have invited Jeff Green the Conservative group leader and Phil Gilchrist the Liberal Democrat group leader to nominate members to work alongside us on the board, as well as officers, independent experts and partner organisations to put an action plan in place by early December.

 "This is a collective priority for everyone across the council and to reinforce that importance I have asked the chief executive to take a lead role in driving these improvements and given him this administration's full support to make the changes and improvements required over the coming weeks, starting with £2m of additional funding."

He added: “As leader of Wirral Council I have a responsibility to all Wirral residents.

"This includes ensuring we deliver on each of the 20 pledges we committed to in our Wirral Plan.

"While Government austerity cuts continue to bite, we must continue to improve services, grow our economy and protect the environment and my commitment to delivering these outcomes is unwavering."


Ofsted's inspection of children's services brought to light a devastating catalogue of serious and widespread failings.

It revealed vulnerable children are being subjected to unacceptable delays leading to them facing ever-increasing risks.

And it branded as "inadequate" the safeguarding board set up to protect children, saying its members have failed to ensure they are free from being influenced.

The watchdog found almost all the problems disclosed in its inspection were known by senior council leaders.

But a "corporate failure" to recruit and retain a permanent head of service severely impaired the ability of the department's director and senior leadership team to address them.

The probe revealed senior managers and political leaders have not provided effective and stable leadership for the service over the last three years.


Wirral Globe:

Wirral Globe: