Newly appointed CEO of Northamptonshire children's trust to leave despite only being in post for one month

James Thomas was only recently appointed as the interim CEO of the new children's trust which will launch in JulyJames Thomas was only recently appointed as the interim CEO of the new children's trust which will launch in July
James Thomas was only recently appointed as the interim CEO of the new children's trust which will launch in July | other
Councillors are ‘hugely concerned’ after the interim chief executive of the new children’s trust has decided he will soon leave the role – just a month after starting the job.

And opposition councillors are up in arms after finding out about the news in a press release issued by the new council welcoming him to his new job, having not heard anything from the leadership team in Northamptonshire.

Last month the Local Democracy Reporting Service reported that James Thomas had been appointed as the interim chief executive of the new children’s trust, which is set to go live in July.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

However, just over one month into his role it has been announced he will be moving to Tower Hamlets Council as its new corporate director for children and culture in July, at the very time the children’s trust is scheduled to launch.

That move was announced in a press release on April 7 from the London based authority, but opposition councillors say they had not heard anything about the move before reading it.

Despite only being an interim chief executive during the search for a person to fill the role permanently, councillors fear it will have a huge impact. And Labour county councillor Danielle Stone believes the process needs to now be paused.

Labour county councillor Danielle Stone said: “I can’t tell you how angry I am.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“This seems like a colossal vote of no confidence in the proposal. We know that children’s services need to be in good shape for the handover. We know they are still not in good shape and require improvement. We know the timetable must slip. It is time to pause the process and think again.”

The issue was briefly raised by fellow Labour councillor Jane Birch at a virtual cabinet meeting this afternoon, where she said the news was ‘a real concern’.

County council leader Matt Golby asked Cllr Birch to stay on the topic of discussion – which was regarding capital funding- but also conceded that it was a ‘huge concern’.

No official reason has been given however as to why Mr Thomas has decided to leave the role. Northamptonshire County Council has been approached for comment.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

After being appointed, Mr Thomas had written in an email sent to staff: “I am really excited to be joining the team for Children First Northamptonshire at a time when there is already a clear momentum of improvement for the children and families of the county, and I can’t wait to hit the ground running next week and meet with frontline staff, and the leadership teams for Children First and the council.”

Children’s services at the county council are currently being overseen by a government-appointed children’s commissioner Andrew Christie. In February he said the creation of the children’s trust, which was ordered by central Government, would be ‘messy and complicated’.A chairman for the children’s trust, Ian Curryer, was appointed in January and he was tasked with helping to oversee the appointment of Mr Thomas as the interim chief executive.

It comes amidst a backdrop of Ofsted judging Northamptonshire children’s services as being inadequate, while two serious case reviews have been published into the deaths of two young children who were failed by Northamptonshire social services.