In March 2018 Steve Atkinson commenced as the Independent Chair of the Board, in addition to his appointments as Chair of the St Helens Partnership Board and of two Health Joint Ventures in Leicestershire, where he had worked for twelve years as Chief Executive of Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council, taking early retirement in December 2016.
Steve thanked Chris Cook for the sterling work he did as the interim Independent Chair and for his advice and support as I took up the role. He said:
"I have been made very welcome by everyone I have met in Derbyshire and i'm impressed by the dedication and desire to provide the best possible services for children in the county from practitioners and managers from all agencies, backed up by the clear support from council members.
"There is no doubt that safeguarding children is one of the most challenging and demanding roles there is in public service; but it also one of the most rewarding - knowing that by doing what we do, we make a significant contribution to protecting them, helping them develop to their fullest potential and generally improving their lives.That is no small achievement.
"The role of the board, and of its Independent Chair, is to challenge what the agencies do, individually and collectively, to ensure and be assured that our children are receiving the best possible support – and that they are safe!
"That is not always a comfortable relationship, but I hope that we all approach it with children at the forefront of our minds and with the fullest professional integrity.
"There are many challenges ahead - financial (as ever), structural and professional - all within a constantly changing environment and combination of needs. My role and that of board members is not to add to those burdens, but to support and encourage the achievement of the high standards to which we all aspire. I look forward to working with you all to safeguard all children in Derbyshire"