THE Prime Minister has vowed to personally ensure the lessons of the “shocking” failures at Rotherham Council will be learned across the country as more senior councillors tendered their resignations today.
David Cameron insisted the Government had no alternative but to take over the running of the council after it was found to be “not fit for purpose”.
He spoke out during a visit to the region with Chancellor George Osborne to set out their vision for the future of the Yorkshire economy.
Their visit came just a day after a damning report on Rotherham Council by Government inspector Louise Casey, in particular on its failure to protect children from sexual exploitation, led Ministers to order commissioners to take control.
The Prime Minister said: “It is a shocking report and I think it’s absolutely right for the Government to step in the way that it has.
“The role of the commissioners will be effectively to run the council and to make sure proper services are delivered and proper safeguards are put in place and the lessons are learned rapidly.”
The Prime Minister said the Government was looking at whether organisations helping abuse victims in Rotherham needed further support.
He added: “I also want to see lessons learned across the country because obviously this hasn’t just happened in Rotherham, we had a very bad case in Oxford, the city next to my constituency.
“Obviously Theresa May is leading the effort through the Home Office but I will do everything I can to make sure that lessons across the country are learned from what’s happened in Rotherham and elsewhere.
“It is not acceptable to let down victims in this way and we need to take action across the board.”
The publication of the Casey report triggered the resignation of council leader Paul Lakin while the remainder of the council’s cabinet promised to stand down following the appointment of the Government’s commissioners.
Today, two cabinet members, Mahroof Hussain and John Doyle, decided to step down with immediate effect. Coun Hussain has also resigned as a Boston ward councillor.
Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles has ordered an ‘all out’ election for Rotherham in 2016 to give voters the chance to choose an entirely new council.
And Labour MP John Mann has urged all current councillors not to seek re-election next year. saying it was inconceivable that abuse victims could ever trust them.
His proposal would bring to an end the political careers of dozens of party supporters on the Labour-controlled council, a move Mr Mann admits would be “unpopular but necessary”.
Mr Mann said he had spoken to Labour sources following the publication on Wednesday of the damning Lousie Casey Rotherham Council inspection report and was shocked at what he heard.
“Even in the last 24 hours there are those in Rotherham who do not get this, who think they are hard done by,” Mr Mann said.
He added that “the failure has been so deep, the cover up so bad that we have no choice but to have a complete clear out”.
“The failure was not just at the leadership but at the scrutiny level, I cannot see any victim being able to go into a current councillor’s surgery and raise concerns.”
Speaking about Rotherham Council’s current leadership, he said: “They have thought of this as a political game, a political attack and the victims have been an after thought, they still do not get it.“