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Sunderland chief to leave

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Sunderland City Council’s chief executive Dr Dave Smith is leaving the local authority after seven years at the helm.

Dr Smith’s departure follows an Ofsted inspection in May this year which found Sunderland to be inadequate across a range of services including child protection, adoption, and children in care.

The council’s local safeguarding children’s board was also considered to be failing in its statutory duty to effectively monitor how well local agencies were safeguarding the welfare of children.

A corporate failure by senior leaders and managers had left children and young people potentially at risk, Ofsted said.

Following the inspection, chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw wrote to education secretary Nicky Morgan to express his concerns.

Ms Morgan subsequently appointed Nick Whitfield, Kingston upon Thames RBC and Richmond upon Thames LBC joint director of children’s services, as an independent commissioner to oversee improvements to child safeguarding in Sunderland.

In addition to his duties as Sunderland chief executive, Dr Smith led on elections and democracy for the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives & Senior Managers, while he also chaired the Key Cities chief executive group.

In a short statement, leader Paul Watson (Lab) thanked Dr Smith for his service having worked at the council for 10 years in total.

“The council has interim executive arrangements in place, and I wish Dr Smith well in the future,” said Cllr Watson.

This story was amended at 15.52 on 18/8 to clarify Mr Whitfield’s job title.

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