Damning report sees Wrexham councillor lose top role


Jonathan Grieve

A SENIOR councillor charged with the task of leading Wrexham Council through cuts totalling millions of pounds has been stripped of his responsibilities.

Long-serving Malcolm King has been punished after the author of a damning report criticised allegations he made about the council’s Child and Family Team (CAFAT).

But the Caia Park councillor says he has no regrets about supporting “whistleblowers”.

Cllr King sat on the executive board as lead member for policy, finance, performance and governance and has been responsible for steering a local authority faced with the challenge of making many austerity cuts.

He also submitted a report to council leader Neil Rogers last October detailing 16 serious allegations about the CAFAT.

But an independent investigation launched to examine Cllr King’s allegations concluded there was “little or no credible evidence” to support the complaints.

And now council leader Neil Rogers has removed portfolio responsibilities from Labour colleague Cllr King amid concerns about the “negative impact on staff” arising from the allegations.

Cllr Rogers said: “I have considered the recent media reports in relation to the CAFAT here in Wrexham. I am concerned that these allegations are having a negative impact on our staff.

“Under the constitutional arrangements of the council I allocate lead member responsibilities and have therefore taken the decision to remove the portfolio as lead member for policy, finance, performance and governance from Cllr King.

“In the interim period I will assume the finance brief and I will speak to other lead members and discuss the other aspects of Cllr King’s brief.”

Despite losing his seat on the executive board, Cllr King says he remains “absolutely certain” he did the right thing.

He said: “The story, according to Cllr Rogers, is he has removed my portfolio as a result of my raising the concerns of social workers that Wrexham’s child protection team was dangerously overstretched.

“After 25 years of raising concerns about child protection and being attacked by all sorts of people with vested interests for doing so, this latest episode comes as no surprise.

“However, while attacking whistleblowers is nothing new, for a report to be put forward by the council, which attacks its own whistleblowing social workers for lacking integrity, is utterly despicable.

“It is also totally against the council’s own whistleblowing policy which says it will protect whistleblowers from such attacks. It also says their employment will be protected.

“As far as my own position is concerned, I’m absolutely certain I did the right thing.

“Faced with concerns about child protection being raised by social workers, I did what any decent councillor would have done and reported it.

“This is all very sad. With the council facing such huge challenges, this is the last thing we needed. However, as most people know, politics is rarely just about what the public is told.”

Cllr David A. Bithell, leader of the Wrexham Independent Group, said the allegations had caused considerable concern to council members.

He said: “I was briefed on the content of the report and our group subsequently wrote to the CAFAT team offering our full support.

“It looks like Cllr Rogers, leader of the Labour group, is now rearranging the deckchairs on board the Titanic.”

See full story in the Leader

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