St Helens Council look to appoint director of children's services

St Helens councillors agreed to implement a restructure of its senior management team as part of its modernisation plans
St Helens councillors agreed to implement a restructure of its senior management team as part of its modernisation plans

St Helens Council will create a new senior post to head up its struggling children’s services.

Councillors agreed to implement a restructure of its senior management team as part of its modernisation plans.

A key part of the restructure will see the creation of director of children’s services, a statutory role that currently falls under the remit of the executive director of people’s services.

The change comes after Ofsted rated the borough’s children’s services ‘inadequate’ in November, following a two-week inspection.

Additionally, a detailed review of the borough’s safeguarding units will be undertaken involving the director of children’s services, the director of adult services and relevant cabinet members.

The executive director for people’s services will maintain strategic oversight and coordination of children’s and adult’s services and public health.

Currently, the executive director of people’s services, which is jointly funded by the council and St Helens CCG, is Professor Sarah O’Brien.

Under the proposals, the new senior management structure will be comprised of an executive leadership team, led by the chief executive, the three executive directors and an assistant chief executive.

Together, they will be tasked with delivering the authority’s ‘One Council’ modernisation programme.

“The executive leadership team will lead and influence, with political leadership, external relationships both regionally and nationally to maximise opportunities to advance St Helens priorities,” the report says.

“This approach is intended to strengthen relationships of executive directors and cabinet members within portfolio areas.

“The executive director model will provide strategic co-ordination for areas of services ensuring a joined-up approach.

“Collectively, the chief executive, the three executive directors together with the assistant chief executive, will deliver the One Council approach.”

St Helens Council leader David Baines said the restructure, coupled with the appointment of Kath O’Dwyer as the authority’s new chief executive, is a “necessary and welcome change” for the authority.

Coun Baines said: “We’ve got amazing staff but in some cases we don’t currently have the right clarity about roles and responsibilities.

“And in some departments we simply lack the capacity and the expertise needed to deliver what we as a council should expect and what residents rightly demand.”

Councillors voted in favour of implementing the revised senior management structure, effective from January 1, 2020.

It is proposed to revise the current senior management structure at the council in two phases.

Phase one will focus on the implementation of a revised structure for the executive leadership team, corporate and people’s services, excluding the two safeguarding units.

Phase two will focus on the structure of place services and people’s safeguarding.

Coun Baines said a restructure of place services will take place once the new executive director of place services is appointed in the coming weeks.

The Labour leader said other posts will be advertised and filled in due course.

Consultation has already commenced with affected staff.

Following any decisions made by the council, full consultation will be carried out with the relevant trade unions.

The council report says it is not anticipated that there will be any compulsory redundancies arising as a consequence of this restructure.