The new chief of children’s services who is returning to rescue the failing department has vowed to make changes – but insists she is not Wonder Woman.
Lin Hazell succeeds Angela Macpherson, who stepped down earlier this month following a damning Ofsted report which rated children’s services in the county as inadequate.
Ms Hazell led the department from 2005 and 2011, when it was graded good by Ofsted on three separate occasions.
She described August’s damning report as ‘very sad’ but thinks she is in a ‘strong position’ to turn things around when she takes office for the second time on Monday.
She said: “I’m confident we can pull it back up but I am not Wonder Woman. I don’t go into phone boxes and come out with a cape on.
“It’s not going to turn around in five minutes, on a sixpence. It could be 18 months to two years but I would like to see some good solid changes in 18 months.”
Ms Hazell described Mrs Macpherson as a ‘sound person’ and supported her decision to step aside for ‘personal reasons’.
She said the task of improving the service is ‘huge’ but defended her predecessor’s work.
She said: “It’s a long learning curve and what sounds good to do 12 months ago, is not always the same down the line. Especially when family circumstances change.
“But there is certainly no blame to be placed anywhere – it was just a set of circumstances.
“I don’t feel they have let anybody down. It was trying to keep pace with changes to legislation.
“I would stand up and get angry if someone said they let the side down. I find that sad because I don‘t think anybody knows how tough that job is.”
Ms Hazell, who also represents the Farnham Common and Burnham Beeches division, wants to bring in more permanent members to her team because there has been an over-reliance on agency staff.
She said: “We have some very, very strong temporary staff but they come at price. We need to get some more permanent staff and that builds the resilience. Nationally, there is a problem with recruitment and retention.
“And we need to look at the budget but there is a good commitment now from members of the council.”