Rotherham Local Plan: Adoption of the Core Strategy
Minute No. C17 (Pages 15C- 17C)
In formally moving the Cabinet Minutes the Deputy Leader reported on how the people of Rotherham had been let down badly and for too many years, by several agencies in this town, over the sexual abuse and exploitation of many of our children and young people.
Those children had the right to expect better and they were failed. The Council accepted its responsibility and its full share of the blame for that failure and the Deputy Leader placed on the record, on behalf of the whole Council, a sincere and unreserved apology, to all the victims and their families, for the suffering they have endured over the years. He was – the Council were – deeply, deeply sorry.
The Jay report made clear that the scale of the problem was far greater than anyone imagined, except those who were actually suffering its effects. The Deputy Leader gave assurances that the victims would be heard and everything would be done to provide them with support as the Jay recommendations would be implemented in full and the people who sexually abused and exploited children were committing vile criminal acts, plain and simple and would be brought to justice, irrespective of their ethnicity.
The Deputy Leader’s immediate programme of action included:-
1. An immediate allocation of £120,000 to support local counselling services for victims and survivors. This would be funded by a 25% reduction in the size of the Council Cabinet, two posts, and a moratorium on all overseas travel by Council Members. This immediate help would be followed by the commissioning of proper long-term provision to support victims, support that was long overdue.
2. Dissolving the Cabinet with a new one being selected immediately.
3. For the Local Government Association to establish an Improvement Board, made up of a majority of senior independent people from outside Rotherham to advise and assist the Council on governance and scrutiny. The membership would comprise:-
a. A serving or recently retired Council Chief Executive.
b. A serving or recently retired Director of Children’s Services.
c. A serving or recently retired Director of Finance.
d. An external “peer” from each of the represented parties on the Council: one Labour, one UKIP and one Conservative.
e. The Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council.
f. One Member of the Council nominated by each of the minority parties.
4. Instructions to the Chief Executive to review again the involvement of staff as detailed in the Jay report to ascertain whether capability and/or disciplinary procedures should be applied to any current member of staff.
5. Councillor Roger Stone had rightly taken his share of the responsibility and resigned as Leader of the Council. The Labour Party, for its part, was currently investigating the role of Councillors during the period and would take appropriate action. The other parties were urged to do the same.
6. The Chief Executive had recognised the need for a fresh start and tendered his resignation as of Monday, 8th September, 2014. He would stay on during his notice period to help the Council in the transition to the appointment of a new Chief Executive.
7. The Deputy Leader to write to the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police urging him to take appropriate action against any current or former serving Police Officers identified in the report.
8. The Chief Executive to investigate the matter relating to the reports of collusion and cover up in relation to a 2001 Home Office report and the disappearance of files from the Risky Business Project and to pass any information to the Police, the Home Office and the Home Affairs Select Committee.
9. The Deputy Leader to write to the Home Secretary to invite her to appoint a specialist, on her behalf, to review any case files they wished, and make recommendations on these cases to both Rotherham Council and South Yorkshire Police, in light a case file highlighted by Professor Jay that should have been reported to the Police and had not been. It was important that the public could have confidence in the preventative and enforcement action taken by the Council and its partners.
The Deputy Leader issued his commitment to giving Rotherham a fresh start, by its Council applying principles of openness, inclusive decision-making and true accountability to the electorate and to work hard to rebuild and restore public trust and public confidence.
Resolved:- That the reports and minutes of the meetings of the Cabinet (Section C) (pages 13C to 34C) be adopted, including the recommendation of Minute No. C17 Rotherham Local Plan – Adoption of the Core Strategy.
Mover:- Councillor Lakin Seconder:- Councillor Doyle