Council tight-lipped as director of young people’s services suspended

The director of young people’s services in Calderdale has been suspended by the local authority. Janet Donaldson, was appointed just over two years ago on a six-figure salary.

At the time she won plaudits for her approach with the-then portfolio holder Coun Craig Whittaker praising her for taking “swift action to get to the heart of the issues.”

A council spokesman said last night: “A member of staff has been suspended – it is an internal matter.”

Halifax Labour MP Linda Riordan said: “It was a shock to hear the news this morning. I don’t have too much information to hand. What I would say is that this is an important department, dealing with many vulnerable people. Therefore the Halifax and Calderdale public need to have every confidence in the running of it.

“I am sure the council is making the correct decisions to ensure that necessary leadership at an officer level is in place as soon as possible.”

Last night council leaders were debating how to take the service forward and to look at introducing interim measures until the situation is resolved.

Council leader Janet Battye (Lib Dem, Calder) said she was unable to comment but Stephen Baines, Conservative group leader, raised questions over the development.

He said he was “extremely surprised” at her departure because “only two weeks ago they were shouting from the hilltops about how the service was improving. It just doesn’t tie up.”

Around two weeks ago, Calderdale Council lost is head of children’s social care, Pixley Clarke, who was recruited by the authority last year following criticism of safeguarding services by Ofsted and independent assessors.

A council spokesman said he could not comment on her departure beyond confirming that she no longer worked for the authority.

Coun Baines added: “There has to be some blame here for the politicians. The most important thing is that looking after children must be at the top of the agenda.”

Janet Donaldson could not be contacted for comment last night.