New Northamptonshire children's services head appointed

A new councillor has been chosen to oversee Northamptonshire's under-fire children's services department.

Conservative Heather Smith will become county council cabinet member for children and education after Catherine Boardman stepped down from the post this week in a surprise move.

Ms Smith will be tasked with continuing improvements to the service which were found to have "systemic failings".

Ms Boardman said she was leaving to concentrate on her family farm.

In a report last year, Ofsted said "key shortfalls" within health, education, employment and training had adversely affected the outcomes for vulnerable children.

Ms Boardman's decision to step down took "everybody" at the council by surprise, with the authority currently one year into a two-year improvement programme, BBC Radio Northampton's politics reporter Willy Gilder said.

Despite budgets being slashed at the authority this year, children's services has been given an extra £12m to aid the improvements.

Ms Smith was selected following a meeting of the full council.

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