SOLIHULL Councillors have welcomed investigations into the death of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes following “A very dark day in our borough.”
Councillor Ian Courts, the leader of the council, said he has asked for an independent verification of the Council’s involvement in Arthur’s life.
He said he would cooperate fully with the national investigation which was announced by the Education Secretary, Nadhim Zahawi earlier this week.
Arthur was beaten, isolated, starved, force-fed salt-laced meals, dehydrated and made to stand for up to 14 hours a day before he was murdered by step mum Emma Tustin at her Shirley home last June.
Tustin was jailed for 29 years on Friday (December 3) with his dad Thomas Hughes jailed for 21 years for manslaughter.
In a statement Coun Courts said: “I am absolutely horrified that the two people in this world who should have been caring for Arthur killed him.
“We have seen a strong and heartfelt reaction from across our borough and nationally. This reaction has focused, not just on Arthur’s father and step-mother, but also on how the various agencies, including this Council, have worked as a safeguarding partnership in Arthur’s tragically short life.
“There shouldn’t be a single council leader who won’t be grateful for a complete root and branch review of how society can ensure its children are kept safe.
“I will be asking a number of questions as to how, with so many agencies and layers of safeguarding in the area, this could have happened; what is the system, or lack of a system that failed Arthur.
“This is a very dark day in our borough. We owe it to Arthur and all the other cases where children have been killed and have occupied our headlines and thoughts, that we should now invest our time, our people and money to deliver a better system in their memory.”
In a joint statement the Solihull Green Party and Liberal Democrats said: “[We] are united in despair for Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, and that for the fourth time in seven years a child has lost their life at the hands of their carers in Solihull.
“No amount of vilification of those involved in this dreadful case will bring Arthur back, but forensic enquiry can help to avoid a repeat – so until we can say with certainty what has gone wrong, it is premature to apportion blame.
“We should remember that thousands of frontline workers throughout the country put themselves at risk during the first Covid lockdown – before vaccines existed and when services were stretched beyond breaking point – to keep children safe.
“It is however essential to understand how a decade of funding cuts and associated service impacts has impacted this Borough’s ability to look after its most vulnerable children.
“Our local parties stand ready to assist whatever inquiry takes place, to get to the truth of this matter.”