Another sudden exit at Norfolk County Council’s children’s services department

Proposals to charge people £2 to visit recycling centres will be discussed at County Hall next week.

Proposals to charge people £2 to visit recycling centres will be discussed at County Hall next week. - Credit: Archant

Another assistant director in Norfolk County Council's troubled children's services department has made a rapid exit - without serving his notice.

Staff at County Hall were told this week that Tom Savory, assistant director with responsibility for strategy and commissioning, had resigned.

Mr Savory said, given changes in a department which has endured criticism from watchdogs, it was the right time for him to move on after 17 years' service.

But Mr Savory's exit on Friday was a sudden one, with the council confirming he would be receiving a payment in lieu of working his three month notice.

He will receive £23,817, which is the equivalent of 18 weeks' pay. The package includes the three month notice, outstanding leave entitlement and outplacement support, described by the council as a 'common feature of chief officer departures aimed at helping them in the jobs market' and which includes CV development and presentation skills.

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Mr Savory's departure follows that of his ex-boss Lisa Christensen, the former director of children's services, who announced in June she was taking early retirement.

Her departure came after Ofsted inspectors criticised the way the council looks after vulnerable children and the support it gives to schools, which led to county MPs calling for a change in leadership.

She was replaced by Sheila Lock, brought in as interim director for children's services, who is presiding over a number of changes.

In September, Lesley Whitney, assistant director for early help, left the authority, taking immediate early retirement.

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New staff include Michael Rosen, leading the department's early help and prevention agenda; Andrew Haley, head of safeguarding and Helen Wetherall, interim assistant director for improvement.

On the latest departure, Ms Lock said: 'Tom has made a considerable contribution to public service in Norfolk over 17 years, but he has decided that, given recent changes in children's services, it is the right time for him to move on. All his colleagues wish him well in his future career.

'Following Tom's departure, I expect to be announcing further changes in the children's services leadership team in the near future. It is vital that we have the right leadership in place to champion the improvement programme, ensuring that we get the basics right and build from there.'

Mr Savory said: 'Having been born and brought up in Norfolk, it has been a privilege to serve my home county for the last 17 years and I also feel very privileged to have worked with so many great people.

'Having been fully involved in the children's services improvement journey to this point, with recent changes to my role and further changes planned, it is the right time for me to focus on the next stage of my career.'

The county council announced is spending an extra £16.5m for more social workers, school improvement advisers and children with special educational needs.

But the authority is also consulting on £140m of cuts over the next three years, with proposals looking to save millions of pounds.

Some £17.6m of those cuts are by changing services for young people, with the authority looking to dramatically cut the number of young people who end up in care.

And it emerged last month that almost a thousand potentially vulnerable Norfolk children were not assessed or only partially assessed because of a lack of social workers and poor management in the county's children's services department,

• Do you have a story about a local council? Call reporter Dan Grimmer on 01603 772375 or email

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