Letter: `Failing' services

Sir: It is encouraging that Councillor Peter Arnold in his letter of 30 November acknowledges the usefulness of publishing comparative information about social services.

He made a number of specific points about Newcastle upon Tyne which I am happy to address. He said that the Newcastle figures were wrong, that the city did not know why it was identified as a "failing authority" and that we released the figures without letting them know in advance.

Readers may like to know that the data for the indicators was provided by Newcastle City Council who were given the opportunity to make amendments before they signed the data off. The council was also made aware of the full set of statistics 24 hours in advance of publication.

Newcastle City Council also knows that it is monitored specifically following the Abuse in Early Years inquiry in November 1998, as it makes regular progress reports to my office.

DENISE PLATT

Chief Social Services Inspector

Newcastle upon Tyne

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