New cabinet member for crisis-hit children’s service is ‘ready for challenge’

The councillor in charge of turning around Northamptonshire’s troubled children’s services said she is delighted to be taking on the tough task.

A new cabinet-elect for Northamptonshire County Council was announced this afternoon and Councillor Catherine Boardman’s role last term as cabinet member for children’s social services has been expanded to cover all children’s services.

Councillor Bill Parker, Councillor Andre Gonzalez De Savage, Councillor Heather Smith, Councillor Jim Harker, Councillor Catherine Boardman, Councillor Suresh Patel and Councillor Robin Brown.

Councillor Bill Parker, Councillor Andre Gonzalez De Savage, Councillor Heather Smith, Councillor Jim Harker, Councillor Catherine Boardman, Councillor Suresh Patel and Councillor Robin Brown.

The change comes after the previous member for children, Andrew Grant, was ousted in the local elections this month.

She is now tasked with being the councillor leading changes in a department which has suffered two ‘inadequate’ ratings from Ofsted this year and faces the prospect of explaining five several serious case reviews into the deaths of county children.

Councillor Boardman said: “I’m absolutely delighted to have the endorsement of the leader to be able to continue the work here that I started in October.

“It’s been a very challenging time and its very difficult for the public to understand where we are but I can only say I am really delighted to have the opportunity to lead on the journey of improvement.”

Asked whether she believed her job would get harder or easier she said: “I don’t see it like that. I can only say there’s a big challenge ahead and that I’m up for the challenge.”

The cabinet was reduced from 10 members to eight. Positions were awarded to two new councillors; Suresh Patel, who will be cabinet member for adult social care, and Michael Clarke, who will be cabinet member for transport, highways and environment.

The full cabinet is:

Leader: Jim Harker

Deputy leader and member for customers and communities: Heather Smith

Children and education: Catherine Boardman

Adult social care: Suresh Patel

Health and wellbeing: Robin Brown

Finance and performance: Bill Parker

Transport, highways and the environment: Michael Clarke

Economic growth and public protection: Andre Gonzalez de Savage