Northamptonshire councillor in charge of children's services given the chop

Cllr Victoria Perry has been demoted by leader Matt Golby as he said she was taking too much on.
Cllr Victoria Perry has been demoted by leader Matt Golby as he said she was taking too much on.

The councillor in charge of children’s services at Northamptonshire County Council has been asked to step down.

Cllr Victoria Perry was removed from the cabinet job by leader Matt Golby straight after the cabinet meeting on Tuesday (Jan 15).

In an interview this morning Cllr Perry said the demotion came out of the blue.

She said: “Matt said he was worried about my wellbeing and that I was taking the role too personally. He said I was taking too much on – I don’t agree with that, but that was his view.

“I do get passionate and I do go out and talk to people and bring back issues, that is what I am like. Maybe he needs someone who is going to be more strategic and less hands-on. Maybe I was too challenging.

“But I have no hard feelings, that’s politics. Matt has my full support.”

The children’s services department at Northamptonshire County Council has been in turmoil in recent months. The Government sent in experienced children’s commissioner Malcolm Newsam to oversee the department in November after a damning Ofsted report found 267 children were without an allocated social worker and that social workers were ‘drowning in work’.

Cllr Perry said: “Ofsted coming in was a good thing because it has caused changes to be made. The new children’s director Sharon Muldoon has worked fantastically and she has sorted out the ‘front door’ of the service and put in place proper procedures and protocols.

“I’m disappointed because I have been involved in all the hard work including the new social work and retention package which is due to be announced next week.

“I would have liked to have stayed on for the journey as things are getting better.”

The conservative councillor, who was appointed to the role in March and has been a county councillor representing the Kettering Ise ward since May 2017, has been active throughout recent months on social media, explaining to residents what has been going on within the council. The authority is being run by commissioners after a Government review found it was being severely mismanaged.

She said: “The new chief executive Theresa Grant has criticised me for that and the commissioners have also criticised me. But that did not stop me. I wanted to get rid of that culture of secrecy and to make myself accountable and I still think it is the right thing to do.”

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Chris Stanbra said he was shocked at Cllr Perry’s demotion.

He said: “As far as I could see Cllr Perry was doing a good job and I’m shocked that the leader has asked her to go.”

It is understood that leader Matt Golby will take over the role on an interim basis.

In a statement he did not explain why he had made his decision but said: “Cllr Perry has been an excellent cabinet member for Children’s Services and has played a huge role in improving certain areas of the directorate and I want to place on record my sincere thanks to her for her work.
“Cllr Perry has many strengths and I have asked her to play a significant role in the process of transitioning Northamptonshire County Council through to the creation of the two new unitary authorities.

“An announcement will be made shortly regarding the role of cabinet member for children’s services.”