Bucks County Council leader refuses to apologise over '˜rant'
The leader of Bucks County Council has refused to apologise following a 'rant' at opposition councillors during a meeting last month '“ which saw politicians clash over children's service budgets.
Campaigner and former parish councillor, Linda Derrick, has questioned the way Bucks County Council leader Martin Tett responded to challenges from opposition councillors on September 20.
During the meeting Lib Dem councillor Martin Farrow stated the failing children’s services have not been prioritised by the council in the past, ultimately leading to today’s budget pressures.
East Wycombe Independent councillor Julia Wassell backed Cllr Farrow’s concerns, and went on to urge children’s services chiefs to prevent the need for young people to enter the care system.
However the challenges were met with anger from the county leader, who slammed the pair’s “disgraceful comments”, and accused them of trying to score “cheap and nasty” political points.
In a blog post Dr Derrick raised concerns over Cllr Tett’s behaviour, criticising him for “completely losing it” during the meeting.
She added he “seems to be suffering amnesia” over the state of the children’s services, and accused cabinet member for children’s services, Warren Whyte, of “completely losing his grip” on reality.
Dr Derrick wrote: “To begin with, isn’t it the responsibility of opposition councillors to scrutinise the county council’s performance?
“Aren’t they entitled to express dissent?
“Aren’t they there to seek reassurance for their constituents?
“Aren’t they there to oppose?
“And surely they are entitled to do this without bringing on a rant from the leader of the council?”
Cllr Tett also faced calls to apologise from Dr Derrick, who pointed out a number of failures across the children’s services since 2014, including two “inadequate” Ofsted ratings, suggested the department had not been prioritised.
Dr Derrick added: “So it looks as though the facts bear out what councillors Wassell and Farrow said; BCC did not prioritise children’s services and it’s incompetent management led to the current budget pressures.
“It looks as though Martin Tett owes them an apology.”
However Cllr Tett remained defiant, insisting he will not be saying sorry to the councilors, and urged Cllr Wassell to apologise to Cllr Whyte for “deliberately distorting” his words.
He said: “No, I will not be apologising to Ms Wassell or Mr Farrow.
“In fact I think Ms Wassell owes Mr Whyte an apology for the way she deliberately distorted and twisted his words.
“Of course I have no problem with the normal challenge from opposition members at county council.
“That is part of democracy.
“But this was a reprehensible attempt to make residents and others potentially watching, such as Ofsted, believe that we had not made children’s services a priority and starved it of the necessary money.
“In fact we have made that priority even clearer since 2014 and doubled the budget to £60m now, at a time when other budgets have had to be reduced.”