Page last updated at 14:02 GMT, Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Mayor refutes council criticism

Serious case reviews into the deaths of seven children have been ordered

The mayor of a troubled South Yorkshire council says a new report criticising the authority's performance does not "convey an accurate picture".

Doncaster Council has been rated poor and its children's services branded one of the worst performers in England in a review by the Audit Commission.

The government has already intervened to bring about improvements in child protection at the authority.

The report also branded children's services in Rotherham as poor.

We acknowledge there is always room for improvement in our delivery of services for local people
Doncaster mayor Peter Davies

The Audit Commission's report is one of 152 assessments of local authorities in England looking at all aspects of public services to create a single snapshot of an area.

Children's services at Doncaster and Rotherham were two of nine authorities to be placed in the worst category by watchdog Ofsted.

Doncaster Council has previously been hit by severe criticisms of child protection procedures in serious case reviews, which have been ordered into the deaths of seven children in the area since 2004.

The report also said improvements were needed in Doncaster's housing services.

Mayor of Doncaster Peter Davies said that although he had only been mayor for a short time: "I can see that this assessment does not convey an accurate picture of Doncaster's performance.

"I know Doncaster is a great place to live and work and this is confirmed to me by the huge amount of correspondence I am receiving which supports my policies.

Surprise inspection

"However, we acknowledge there is always room for improvement in our delivery of services for local people and we realise the challenges we are facing in our children's services and in meeting the housing needs of local people."

The report's findings coincide with the appointment of Chris Pratt, the new director of children's services, who has been brought in from Trafford Council where his department was rated as performing well.

The poor rating in Rotherham comes after a surprise inspection earlier this year which uncovered serious failings in child protection services.

A spokesman said Rotherham's Children and Young People Services had already been working on improvements.

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