Boss who put Leeds children first and transformed care set to step down

The man credited with transforming Leeds City Council's troubled children's services department is set to retire.

Nigel Richardson, director of children's services at Leeds City Council, is set to step down. Picture by James Hardisty.

Nigel Richardson took over the department in the aftermath of the Casey Mullen scandal in 2009, when Government’s Ofsted watchdog condemned the quality of the city’s care for vulnerable youngsters.

The rape and murder of Gipton two-year-old Casey by her uncle led to a review of the service in which Ofsted found scores of youngsters across Leeds were at risk of abuse and neglect.

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Replacing Rosemary Archer as director of children’s services, Mr Richardson led a turnaround that saw the department rated as good with outstanding leadership in 2015.

The civil servant, who has worked in and round the public sector for 34 years, was also behind the birth of the Child Friendly Leeds initiative which is backed by the YEP.

Mr Richardson will step down from his role as director at the end of September.

Coun Judith Blake, leader of the council, said: “Nigel has worked extremely hard over the last six years to fulfil our ambition to make Leeds the best city for children to grow up in and has led the city’s children’s services on a massive improvement journey.”

Child Friendly Leeds is a campaign sparked by UNICEF’s work to improve the lives of children and young people.

The initiative aims to give local young people a voice and includes an annual awards ceremony to recognise their achievements.

Coun Lisa Mulherin, the council’s executive member for children and families, said: “Nigel has instilled a whole new culture, not only within children’s services but also across the council, creating a real focus on doing things ‘with’ and not ‘for’ or ‘to’ children and families.”