The resignations of three senior councillors from Suffolk County Council's cabinet and deputy cabinet has been welcomed by opposition politicians.

Rachel Hood, the Conservative-run council's cabinet member for special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), has left her role in the wake of the scathing Ofsted report in SEND provision in the county.

James Reeder, cabinet member for children and young people's services, and Chris Chambers, deputy cabinet member for SEND, have also stepped down.

The latest Ofsted report comes after inspections in 2016 and 2021 found the council's provision of SEND services were in need of improvement.

East Anglian Daily Times: Rachel Hood has quit as cabinet member for SEND at Suffolk County CouncilRachel Hood has quit as cabinet member for SEND at Suffolk County Council (Image: Simon Lee Photography/Suffolk County Council)

Ina joint letter to council leader Matthew Hicks, the departing councillors said: "Over the course of this week, it has become apparent that our positions have become a distraction from the vital work of this council in improving outcomes for children and families within the SEND service in Suffolk – work which we have focused on since our appointments two and a half years ago in 2021. 

"The recent Ofsted report is extraordinarily disappointing, despite Ofsted and the DfE’s recognition of improvements in the service and we are determined that the council will go further and faster in providing SEND children and their families with the outcomes, and positive experience, they need and deserve.

"We are proud of the work we have done over the last two and a half years, particularly during and following the Covid-19 pandemic, to reform, restructure and improve many aspects of children’s services, particularly in the face of dramatic increases in demand.

"We are clear that we have put the directorate on a firm footing to continue to achieve the changes we all want to see and which are already happening.

Andrew Stringer, leader the Green, Liberal Democrat and Independents opposition group at the county council, tentatively welcomed the resignations – but said "mass resignations" may not be the solution.

East Anglian Daily Times: Andrew Stringer, opposition leader at Suffolk County CouncilAndrew Stringer, opposition leader at Suffolk County Council (Image: Sarah Lucy Brown)

He said: "It's obviously a bit of a shock, as were the findings of the Ofsted report. We called it 'Groundhog Day'.

"In terms of the resignations, I didn't quite understand the reasoning in their letter – they said their positions had become a 'distraction'.

"It just does seem like absolute critical panic.

"People being accountable for not doing a good job is something you should always welcome. I think it's a symptom of a wider problem. But I'm not sure mass resignations are always the solution.

"We are a group of opposition parties and we offer an olive branch to the council. If they need our help, they just have to ask – we can't keep failing children."

Jack Abbott, former county councillor and Labour's parliamentary candidate for Ipswich, said: "I'm afraid the resignation of some middle-ranking politicians isn't going to cut it. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Jack Abbott, Labour's parliamentary candidate for IpswichJack Abbott, Labour's parliamentary candidate for Ipswich (Image: Newsquest)

"They might have been the face of the problem, but they weren't the root cause of it, nor were they ultimately responsible for it. That lies with the Leader of Suffolk County Council and the chief executive, who have both been in post for nearly six years. 

"On their watch, we have had two damning Ofsted reports, and thousands of children and their families have continued to suffer from this systemic neglect.

"Things are simply not getting better, and families don't need more empty apologies and promises which won't be kept. This has gone too far, and too much damage has been done.

"After years of failure, it is obvious that Suffolk County Council has neither the ability, nor the will, to end Suffolk’s SEND crisis.

"It is time for the government to intervene to provide the leadership, resources and expertise that the council so clearly needs."

East Anglian Daily Times: Adam Robertson, Labour's parliamentary candidate for LowestoftAdam Robertson, Labour's parliamentary candidate for Lowestoft (Image: Adam Robertson)

Adam Robertson, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Lowestoft, added: "I welcome that Rachel Hood, James Reeder and Chris Chambers have recognised that their positions had become untenable after the damning report published by Ofsted into SEND Services within Suffolk."