Why the Evening Post continues to employ John Howarth to write his increasingly irrelevant opinion piece is one that only the editor can answer. He repeats exactly same attacks that his erstwhile council colleagues have deployed in recent weeks and perhaps a "Sponsored by The Reading Labour Party and Powered by the Evening Post" ought to appear above it to make clear its providence.
Mr. Howarth's defence of Peter Ruhemann relies on the Ofsted star rating system failing to pick up any problems. So tell me, what star rating did Haringey get? Yes, the same three stars that he points to as proving that all was all right in Reading.
It's typical though of a man who supports a government that is more interested in statistics than actually doing things, things like leaking dodgy knife crime stats and allowing hospital stats to be fiddled when it suits them. Statistics are no substitute for doing the job properly in the first place.
Howarth also knows full well that the opposition has only been running scrutiny since last May. Before that it was a Labour cabal, rubber stamping their own decisions. I'm not going to name names, but one officer told me that I wasn't going to be given any information because their relationship with the lead councillor had to be protected. I was also told that I would only be given certain information as long as I knew the right question to ask! I didn't realise that trying to represent my constituents was meant to be a game of 20 questions. Still I guess that's what you get after 22 years of Labour rule, a cosy collection of yes-men and women running the council, up to their necks in the middle of an Egyptian river.
Perhaps I misunderstood when Mr. Howarth tells us that everything was all hunky-dory in Children's Services apart from the last two years. Maybe he is trying to say that Peter Ruhemann presided over a sudden collapse in the department? This would explain the extra £400,000 that needs to be pumped in to rescue Children's Services next year. If there is now a problem which didn't exist before, it strikes me that this is evidence that the service was underfunded to the tune of £400,000 last year... that pre-election council tax bribe came at a cost didn't it John? Shame it had to be Reading's children that bore the brunt of it.
But then we should expect nothing less than self-serving twaddle from him. Mr. Howarth has spent too long outside to corridors of power and it shows. We don't run the council like it was during your time any more, when there was a complete lack of scrutiny and a culture of rubber stamping reports.
Yeah, it's not like the old days, is it John? Thank God!