Northamptonshire County Council has moved quickly to replace its cabinet member for children, after axing the previous councillor in the role.
Councillor Fiona Baker will take on the duty of overseeing children’s services, education and families after being appointed to the role by council leader Matt Golby.
It comes just days after Councillor Golby suddenly removed Councillor Victoria Perry from the position following a cabinet meeting last Tuesday (January 15).
Councillor Baker takes on the role in a tough time for the county council, which was heavily criticised in its latest Ofsted report and has had to have a government-appointed commissioner, Malcolm Newsam, drafted in to oversee the failing service. The watchdog’s report in November found that more than 250 children were without an allocated social worker, and that employees were ‘overwhelmed’ and ‘drowning’.
Brackley-based Councillor Baker has only been a county councillor since May 2017, although she has also served on South Northamptonshire Council since 2015. Soon after being elected to County Hall she sat as a member of the health, adult care and wellbeing committee, before it was scrapped in September last year.
But she was a regular attendee at county council cabinet meetings, as explained by Councillor Golby, who said: “Councillor Baker has been assistant cabinet member over the last year and I’m delighted to be able to offer this opportunity for her to take this step up to her new role.
“I have every confidence in her ability to continue to drive forward improvements in children’s services and build on the good work that is already underway.”
It marks the latest change to a county council cabinet that has regularly been reshuffled over the last 12 months.
Despite relieving her of her duties, Councillor Golby said that previous cabinet member Victoria Perry had ‘played a huge role in improving certain areas of the directorate’. But no further details have emerged as to why she was removed from the role.
Councillor Perry last week told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that she may have been ‘too challenging’ for the leader, and that her use of social media had not gone down well with new chief executive Theresa Grant, but that she had ‘no hard feelings’.