MP Tessa Munt in row with County Council leader
row between Burnham-On-Sea's MP and the leader of Somerset County
Council has deepenend after a national newspaper story at the
Sunday Times published a story claiming that a law firm
hired by the County Council wanted the newspaper to reveal the
identity of a whistleblower that tipped off the press about alleged
sex abuse in care homes.
the wake of the story, Burnham's MP Tessa Munt has criticised
Conservative council leader John Osman after hearing a House of
Commons speech by Eric Pickles about Rotherham Council.
said: "As I listened to Eric Pickles describe the failings
which allowed the distressing abuse of children in Rotherham,
I found myself comparing these failings with those in Somerset."
leader of Somerset County Council has denied problems, deflected
criticism and used threats of legal action in a so called personal'
capacity to intimidate and silence whistle-blowers and critics."
he feels desperate enough to threaten the local MP with a letter
before action, then the obvious questions are is who else has
he bullied into silence, at what cost to taxpayers, and what on
earth has he got to hide?"
response, Mr Osman said he was "disappointed with the continual
inaccurate and politically motivated comments" from Ms Munt.
added: "I wish that she would turn her attentions to help
benefit the children in Somerset who are our number one priority."
is true that I wrote to the MP for Wells in a personal capacity
to ask her to apologise for her inaccurate comments made about
me and Somerset County Council That letter was written in November
and to date she has failed to apologise or even have the courtesy
to respond. I have no issue with the MP raising issues about childrens
services, but she must stop using a list of inaccurate and misleading
statements that she knows are not true."
should be stated that since 2013 Ms Munt has failed to engage
with staff and councillors at Somerset County Council. Meetings
have been offered to the MP to discuss the issues that exist in
our Childrens Services. Mrs Munt has refused to meet. It
is disgraceful that she continues to use childrens services
as a political football and fails to discuss any matters with
response to her allegations, no problems have been denied or deflected
and there has been no intimidation of any person. At Somerset
County Council we operate an open and honest council that is committed
to addressing the issues that exist with Childrens Services.
I am sorry to say that the inaccurate comments are typical of
the abuse Somerset County Council, its staff and councillors take
on a regular basis from the MP."
Munt needs to do more for Somerset residents, she needs to engage
with local authorities and help them to provide outstanding services
to children, rather than make inaccurate and unhelpful statements
which do nothing other than demoralise the staff working hard
to care for children."
County Council has also issued a statement this week regarding
the Sunday Times article. It says: "For the avoidance
of any doubt, this is not a council that pursues or intimidates
'whistle-blowers' or 'moles'. In the case referred to in the Sunday
Times article, concerns raised by a member of staff were acted
upon, leading to the closure of a childrens home. The identity
of the individual who raised the concerns remains, rightly, anonymous.
No member of staff is, or has been, investigated for bringing
these concerns to our attention."