There were disapproving gasps in the council chamber as Labour councillor Jim Robbins demanded a “written answer or a written resignation” from the authority’s leader Coun David Renard, for relatively poor performance of the council's children's services.

Coun Robbins had read a list of disparaging Ofsted reports and letters into children’s services at Swindon Borough Council over the last five years and added: “Can the Leader tell me how many times he and his leadership will be criticised before he resigns?”

Coun Renard said: “It is the job of the leadership to set the policy and ensure the resources are available. A lot of the criticisms are not aimed at the policy but at the officers in charge of the service. We now have new officers in place who are making the improvements needed.

"In terms of policy and resources, we’ve put in measures to improve these matters.”

In response Coun Robbins said: “I note there wasn’t a number in Coun Renard’s answer. I am willing to receive a written answer, or a written resignation.”

After the meeting he added: “I thought it was out of order for Coun Renard to blame his officer team when he has been the Leader of the Council and the cabinet member for children’s services before that. He has recruited all of the officers he tried to move the blame onto.”