SERIOUS work needs to be done to get to the root of child sexual abuse and education problems in the district, a council meeting has heard.

The two thorny issues were discussed by a senior council committee, which wanted to find out what was being done to identify their underlying causes.

It was revealed at the meeting that a new project aimed at getting services working more closely together would be trialled in Keighley.

The council’s governance and audit committee met at City Hall to examine the network of partnerships, organisations, boards and committees responsible for children’s services in the district, and how they all relate to each other. The meeting heard Ofsted, the HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and others were starting a new type of inspection, which would look at the response by councils and the police into all forms of child abuse.

Bradford is due to be inspected in the coming months, they were told.

Committee member, Keighley Central councillor Khadim Hussain, said while there was a lot of work being done to tackle child sexual exploitation in Bradford district, there were also a large number of cases.

He said: “Somewhere there’s some kind of failing in the system that is not being picked up.”

He asked what work was being done to pick up the early signs of grooming, saying: “It’s treating the symptoms. We are not getting to the root cause.”

Bingley Rural councillor Baroness Margaret Eaton added: “Root cause is something we rarely look at.”

Council officers said the new project designed to get services working more closely together in local areas to help families at an earlier stage, would be piloted in Keighley from next month.

But Cllr Hussain asked why this was only happening now.

He said: “My concern is this issue goes back years. It goes back over a decade.” He said they were told there had so far been around 12 convictions, with another “80 or 90 cases in the pipeline”.

He said it was time to take a step back and look at “where we have failed and what lessons we can learn from that”.

The committee also discussed the long-term failure of the district’s school system. Baroness Eaton asked who was concentrating on delivering improvements, and what was being done to identify the underlying causes of failure? Education expert Professor David Woods had been brought in by Bradford Council to do that. Cllr Hussain said sometimes the council had been guilty of “justifying failure”.The committee also asked who would be held accountable for the district’s education system in future, as more and more schools moved out of local authority control by becoming academies.

Officers said Regional Schools Commissioner for West Yorkshire, Vicky Beer, was likely to play a greater role.