Children may be put at risk by the proposed cuts in children's services. Brighton and Hove City Council is now a corporate parent and has parental responsibility for the children in its care.

What good parent reduces support to their children? Yet the administration is proposing extensive budget cuts to the service.

This includes reducing staffing at the Clermont Unit by 42 per cent.

As the committee papers state "This unit provides specialist services in the high risk and more complex cases . . . risk assessment for the courts and in child protection procedures." In addition vacancies among social work staff are not being filled.

I wonder if the senior councillors and officers responsible for making these proposals have really thought through the impact of these cuts. Child protection depends on careful and thorough work from dedicated staff. As we know all too well it is easy to miss signs of neglect and child abuse.

Witness the tragic case, reported last week, of the seven-week-old baby killed by her father in Kettering. No individual member of a service was found to be responsible.

The fault was "structural failures".

No individual was at fault in 1999 when we experienced a tragedy in this city.

Surely we have learnt that a strong children's service with highly trained specialist staff and good communication systems is essential to protect the children for whom we are responsible. Are those responsible for the service really prepared to risk another tragedy?