Merton to streamline decision-making for children’s services during the Coronavirus outbreak

In order to ensure greater accountability and improve decision-making for children’s services while coronavirus is affecting the community, the Leader of Merton Council, Councillor Stephen Alambritis has appointed a new Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Education.

Councillor Eleanor Stringer, the Cabinet Member for Schools and Adult Education, has been appointed to the new position, to cover the Children’s Services portfolio during the coronavirus outbreak.

At the same time, Councillor Kelly Braund has stepped down from her post as Cabinet Member for Children’s Services. The Labour councillor, who served as the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services for nearly two years, had already decided to stand down from her role due to family commitments.

Cllr Braund, who has represented the St Helier ward for three years, will remain a councillor until May 2021, which is the next permitted election date. She has been praised for her leadership on all council activity to protect and improve the lives of children and young people in the borough.

She was also instrumental in re-energising the Children’s Trust and the Corporate Parenting Board and worked with young people to develop the new Children and Young People’s Plan, improve youth services and promote young adults’ involvement in the community and council decision making.

Cllr Stringer, who has been the Cabinet Member for Schools and Adult Education for the past year, will take over the Children’s Service portfolio. Cllr Stringer has overseen the borough’s state secondary schools being included in the country’s top five for the progress students make.

The Leader of Merton Council, Stephen Alambritis, said: ‘I am really sorry to see Kelly step down. She has made a huge contribution to the lives of youngsters in this borough and ensured the welfare and opportunities of all our children is at the heart of everything we do.

“Her dedication and passion to improve the lives of all Merton children, including those looked after by the council and those needing extra support has been boundless, and I know that it is a commitment that is shared by Ellie.

“We are proud that Merton is a great place for families to raise their children, and we would like to thank Kelly for her exemplary work to enhance the opportunities for our young residents, and wish Ellie well in her new role.

“It is crucial that we streamline procedures during the coronavirus outbreak to ensure that children are protected both in and out of school. The combined role is a key one in tackling this terrible disease and ensuring we minimise its impact, so I am delighted Ellie has agreed to step in.”

Cllr Braund was first elected to serve as a councillor in July 2017 and was appointed the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services in May 2018. She also served on the council’s Health and Wellbeing Board, Children’s Trust Board, Local Safeguarding Children Partnership, Corporate Parenting Board and Violence Against Women and Girls Board.

Cllr Stringer was first elected in May 2018 and was appointed to Cabinet in May 2019, as Cabinet Member for Schools and Adult Education.