I am very pleased to welcome a new International News site to the web. GlobalPost went live yesterday and their news coverage looks pretty comprehensive. They have also signed up a group of bloggers from around the World and I am delighted to be one of the initial group.
The site is divided up by geographical areas of the world and you will find my first item with them in the blog section under Europe. By appearing on Global Post’s website, my posts not only appear instantly on globalpost.com but also potentially on the sites of their partners, including the Huffington Post (7.8 million U.S. and 9.7 million global monthly unique visitors) and other news and information websites.
I look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship.
Bookmakers William Hill believe that a General Election will not take place until 2010 and have shortened the odds on that from 4/6 to 1/2 with a 2009 General election now offered at 6/4 from 11/10.
Following recent opinion polls showing an increased Conservative lead, they have also cut the odds on the Conservatives winning the most seats at the next General Election from 4/9 to 4/11. Labour’s odds have lengthened from 13/8 to 2/1, while the Lib Dems remain rank outsiders at 100/1.
The well known bookmakers have also cut the Conservatives from 4/6 to 4/7 to win an overall majority, while Labour have been lengthened from 9/2 to 11/2, with a Hung Parliament priced at 2/1.
Ofsted have today published their Joint Area Review of Reading Borough’s Children’s Services which contains a series of damning statements including that “Safeguarding is inadequate due to significant weaknesses in fundamental elements of child protection and children’s social care”. This finding by Ofsted follows several high profile child abuse cases in recent years culminating in Haringey’s “Baby P” case at the end of last year and leaves Reading assessed as one of the worst authorities in the country for child protection.
Further damning comments in the report include:
“The Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) is largely ineffective.”
“Provision to reduce teenage conceptions is poorly co-ordinated and inadequate.”
“A lack of robust data is impeding planning and service development. Sex and relationship education (SRE) is variable and advice on good sexual health is not reaching all young people.”
“…the [teenage pregnancy reduction] strategy is not fully funded nor underpinned by comprehensive service mapping or analysis of need. As a result, services lack co-ordination and are still developing in isolation.”
“Performance management is inadequate” [JAR] page 21.
In December the Annual Performance Assessment also found under the heading “Staying Safe” that the Labour run Council’s procedures for “improving outcomes for children and young people were inadequate”. It further condemned the Council for having “underestimated a number of important weaknesses and overvalued the areas where progress has been made”.
Senior Conservatives have called for the resignation of the Labour Lead Councillor for Childrens’ Services, Cllr Pete Ruhemann, who chairs the Children & Young People’s Strategic Board and who has been responsible for this area for over 8 years. He must take much of the blame for a clear lack of political leadership in this department.
If he does not resign, Conservative Lead Spokesman Cllr Isobel Ballsdon will move a motion of no confidence in Cllr Ruhemann at the next Full Council meeting on 27th January and seek the support of other parties.
UPDATE: The BBC South Today report is here.