The City of Wolverhampton Council's Executive Director of Families Emma Bennett is set to become the new Chief Executive of neighbouring Walsall Council.

Emma, who has been with the council for 16 years and oversees Children’s Services, Adult Services, Public Health, Education, Skills and Adult Education, is expected to take up her new role in October. The appointment will be recommended to a full meeting of Walsall Council next month for ratification.

Emma said: "I have genuinely loved my time at Wolverhampton, hence why I've been here 16 years – nowhere else has been as exciting! However, the opportunity to take this new role at Walsall Council was just too good to turn down, and I am thrilled to have been offered the position.

"I will look back on my time in Wolverhampton with immense pride. We have been on an incredible transformation journey in Children's Services. This has led to us firstly achieving, and then retaining, a Good rating from Ofsted, with an Outstanding judgement for our leadership and management. Further, it has helped significantly reduce demand on our statutory services whilst improving outcomes for our children, young people and their families.

"We've also done some brilliant work supporting our schools to improve, and I am delighted that nearly 90% of our schools are now either Good or Outstanding, which is higher than the regional or national average.

“The redesign of adult services is now well underway which will bring with it many improvements for our most vulnerable residents, and we're also in the process of creating a lifelong strategy to help local people develop their skills and secure jobs. 

"We've been able to develop very strong relationships with our city partners and we've worked very hard to support our residents over the last few years, showing a real one council approach to help people through the Covid-19 pandemic and, more recently, the cost of living crisis.

"All of these had, and continue to have, a really positive impact on our residents, and were only possible thanks to the hard work and dedication of colleagues across Families and the wider council."

Councillor Ian Brookfield, Leader of the City of Wolverhampton Council, said: "We are really sad to be losing Emma, but we wish her well in her new role.

"She has been an incredible leader of her service areas for many years, and I am sure she will deliver for the people of Walsall in the way she has delivered for the people of Wolverhampton.

"We have a very good relationship with our colleagues at Walsall Council and we look forward to continuing to work closely with Emma in the future."

Councillor Chris Burden, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Education, added: "Giving our children and young people the best possible start in life is an absolute priority for the council and Emma has led with incredible energy and determination to deliver on this.

"Under her leadership, Children's Services has secured and retained a Good rating from Ofsted – with inspectors particularly recognising the outstanding leadership within the council – while more of our children and young people now attend schools that are rated Good or Outstanding than ever before. 

"What is Wolverhampton's loss is Walsall's gain, but Emma leaves us in a very good place, and, on behalf of the council, I'd like to thank her for her many achievements during her time with us."

Future arrangements for the service area will be announced in due course.