Child care chief quits after day and a half at troubled council

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THE new head of children’s social care at a Yorkshire council has quit – only a day and a half into her new job.

Sharmain Lawrence was appointed by Calderdale after the unexpected departure last month of Pixley Clarke who earned a salary of more than £80,000. But Ms Lawrence, who used to work for Salford Council, had barely walked through the doors of her new office before she had a change of heart.

Her abrupt exit comes just weeks after her immediate boss Janet Donaldson was suspended triggering speculation Ms Lawrence might have been taken aback by the number of problems facing Calderdale Council over children’s social care and safeguarding.

Ofsted inspectors remain highly critical and councillors are holding a major inquiry into the crisis.

Ms Lawrence, who was the assistant director of targeted and specialist support services at Salford, was unavailable for comment.

She helped produce a safeguarding action plan for the council after it was issued with an Improvement Notice, just like Calderdale Council was earlier this year.

A council spokesman said: “Ms Lawrence left due to unforeseen personal circumstances.”

Coun Stephen Baines, leader of the Conservative group, said: “We would like to know exactly what has been going on here. I think it is extremely worrying.

“If her departure is for personal reasons then that is fair enough but obviously after lasting for just a day and a half the suggestion is that she must have realised she has made a mistake after dipping her foot in the water.

“The council’s top priority has to be the safeguarding of vulnerable children and hopefully this inquiry will get to the bottom of things as soon as possible and it will be all sorted out.”