Norfolk's children's chief to retire following call for 'leadership cull'
Norfolk CC director of children’s services Lisa Christensen has announced her decision to stand down and retire next month.
Her decision comes just weeks after all nine Norfolk MPs, including childcare minister Liz Truss, demanded a leadership cull in light of a damning Ofsted inspection which found the authority was putting vulnerable children at risk.
In a statement, Ms Christensen said the delivery of education and other services for children and their families in Norfolk had been transformed in her 11 years working for the authority.
‘And the evidence is that the actual outcomes for our children and young people have improved and the risks lessened,’ Ms Christensen said.
Ms Christensen, whose career spans 34 years across local government, the voluntary sector and the NHS, was appointed Norfolk’s director of social services in 2002 and three years later, in 2005 became children services director.
Norfolk CC expects to have appointed a new interim director by 18 July, by which time Ms Christensen will have stepped down. She will receive £23,248, her contractual entitlement of two months’ salary in lieu of notice, and the council will make a one-off £116,398 payment to the Norfolk Pension Fund.
Cabinet member for children’s services, Cllr James Joyce, said: ‘I respect Lisa’s decision and think it is the right one, especially in the light of the very personalised attacks made on her of late, and for the service going forward.’
Cllr Joyce said the rainbow coalition running Norfolk CC, formed after May’s elections, had made children and young people’s services a priority by appointing two cabinet member roles to the portfolio and putting a robust improvement plan in place.
‘Norfolk MPs were aware of this and that is why we felt their sudden grandstanding was not just unhelpful, but irresponsible,’ Cllr Joyce added
Norfolk CC managing director, Anne Milton, will provide additional support to the children’s service management team during the recruitment process to ensure stability and continued focus.
‘No one should underestimate the size and scale of the director of children’s service post or its importance to the authority,’ Ms Milton said.
‘Nationally the bar has been raised – and rightly so – and the council’s priority is to do all that needs to be done to ensure our children and young people benefit from those higher standards and expectations.’
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