A COUNCIL leader has stepped down on the day a damning report on children’s services was leaked.

West Sussex County Council leader Louise Goldsmith announced her resignation today after ten years as council chief.

Tory leader Ms Goldsmith said she had put her “heart and soul” into the job.

But a Department for Education report leaked to the Local Government Chronicle claimed there was a “bullying culture” in the council.

This followed months of debate after the council’s children’s services were rated “inadequate” by Ofsted in May, prompting Government intervention.

The leaked report said an alternative way of delivering the service needed to be found because “corporate conditions are not conducive to support and sustain genuine improvement”.

Opposition leader Michael Jones said Ms Goldsmith’s resignation should have happened “months ago” and more should follow.

The Labour leader said: “After last night’s shocking article from the Local Government Chronicle, it is right Louise Goldsmith has now stood down as leader.

“It should have happened months ago after the initial Ofsted report instead of clinging on to power until now.

“This is a discredited Tory administration that has lost all credibility to run West Sussex.

“To lose children’s services to an external trust, which is now a likely outcome, is an utterly devastating blow to this council and its political reputation.

“Her resignation should be the first of many, in my view.

“This failure runs deep.”

Lib Dem education spokeswoman Kirsty Lord added: “It is a huge relief that it looks like children’s services will be run in a trust while the problems at the very top are sorted out.

“The operational and cultural problems cannot be allowed to slow down the improvements our children desperately need.”

It is expected a new leader will be elected at the next full council meeting on October 18.