Two new cabinet members at West Sussex County Council have been appointed.
Roger Elkins (Con, East Preston and Ferring) is taking on the responsibility for highways and infrastructure.
Meanwhile his predecessor Bob Lanzer (Con, Maidenbower and Worth) moves to the newly-created corporate relations portfolio, which includes customer relations, data protection and many behind-the-scenes services.
Mr Elkins said: “I’m delighted to be joining the Cabinet and look forward to working with the highways team on issues that are important to people in West Sussex who use our roads.”
Paul Marshall (Con, Storrington) will replace Stephen Hiller (Con, Haywards Heath East) as cabinet member for children and young people.
He has been a member of the council’s Children and Young People’s Services Select Committee.
Mr Hillier was relieved of his cabinet duties right after Ofsted rated a Shoreham children’s home ‘inadequate’ leading to a registration suspension notice being issued.
The county council has moved the children out of the home, and a review of its remaining five homes found problems at another two.
Louise Goldsmith, leader of the county council, declined to comment when asked directly if the decision to remove Mr Hiller from the Cabinet was linked to the problems uncovered at the children’s homes.
However she did say a summer cabinet reshuffle had always been planned as in the autumn the council would be entering a ‘challenging budget phase’ and she wanted to give new members time to get up to speed before then.
In a statement Mr Hillier said: “I am obviously intensely dismayed at the turn of events this week in relation to my role. However, the most important dynamic in this is for all of us, from local authorities to residents and even the media, to do the very best for the families, children and young people of West Sussex.
“In relation to the leader’s decision, I have to own up to the fact that I was culpable in two regards; I omitted to inform her and Cabinet colleagues of the original OFSTED report; and that I trusted that the sound corrective measures, approved by OFSTED, were being undertaken, my role being more one of political and policy leadership, not operational.
“Having had the privilege of politically leading our children’s services for just over two years I know that the commitment of the whole council, from members to the officers, to doing the very best possible is absolute and something that all should be proud of. There are many areas of the service that West Sussex is leading the way in nationally and the striving for improvement is steadfast.
“However, as those who follow these things will know, in West Sussex as in all over the UK, there is a relentless increase in demand and complexity facing children’s services and our resources are deeply stretched. It is therefore behoven upon all of us to support those carrying out this important and very difficult work, and to be careful about being rashly judgemental, particularly of our amazing frontline workers, in the sadly inevitable occasions where something goes wrong.
“Finally, I would like to thank my Member colleagues and the officer team at West Sussex for the very kind messages expressing surprise and support that I have received. They are much appreciated and help to remind me that I committed myself fully and passionately to the role I had. I do, of course, wish my successor all the very best in the role and he has my full support in any way that he requires it.”
James Walsh (LDem, Littlehampton East), leader of the Lib Dem group at County Hall, said the changes would be ‘totally irrelevant to most of the public who may their wages’.
He criticised the decision to create a new cabinet post, which he described as a ‘real non-job and a waste of another £20,000 per year in a cash-strapped authority’.
Dr Walsh added: “When youth services have been slashed to almost zero, when care homes are closing because of inadequate care levels, and when we are losing bus services, these changes will not help one jot.”