Haringey Council Chief Executive, Ita O’Donovan was previously city manager at Stoke-on-Trent Council (the top staff person in their then directly elected Mayor system). Her departure to become Haringey Chief Executive was announced in November 2005, and Ita O’Donovan took up post in Haringey in March 2006.
And in that same month, March 2006, the then Children’s Minister Beverley Hughes wrote that council failings were putting children in Stoke at risk:
In one letter, dated 15 March 2006, the minister wrote to [Stoke Mayor] Mr Meredith saying a report into care provided by Stoke City Council showed there were “critical weaknesses” which could contribute to children being put at risk. [BBC]
Those weaknesses in children’s services were therefore there whilst Ita O’Donovan was in post. It looks to me that there are some serious questions for Ita O’Donovan, especially given the response to warnings made directly to her about problems in Haringey’s care for children, as Lynne Featherstone MP recounts:
I then asked for a meeting, and finally managed to get one with George Meehan on 31st January 2008. Ita O’Donovan (Chief Executive of Haringey) was in attendance at George’s request – so it was Haringey’s more senior politician and most senior member of staff at the meeting.
I brought the case histories and the letters with me and went over my extreme concerns with them both. They assured me they were as concerned as I was and Ita O’Donovan said she was looking at this in particular and commissioning an expert examination (I believe that is what she said).
But chasing letters following the meeting asking what had happened were not responded to.
Hat-tip: an anonymous comment on Lynne Featherstone’s blog for highlighting Ita O’Donovan’s Stoke background.
UPDATE: Ita O’Donovan was Assistant Chief Executive at a third council which had failing Children’s Services.