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Rotherham council finally free of government intervention after restoring ‘moral compass’

The government has confirmed its intervention at Rotherham council will formally end this weekend after it had “transformed from a failing authority to one that is reinvigorated and fully autonomous.”

Central government took over Rotherham MBC in 2015 after its entire cabinet resigned in the wake of an investigation which deemed the council “not fit for purpose.”

But the latest report from commissioners said the “strength and visibility” of the council’s leader Chris Read and chief executive Sharon Kemp has “re-established the council’s moral compass.”

Commissioners said the pace of improvement across the council has “increased beyond their expectations, which bodes well for future prospects.”

The team of five commissioners led by Dame Mary Ney was tasked with turning around the council whose significant failings had contributed to at least 1,400 children being abused in the area over 16 years.

Rotherham council has slowly regained its powers and responsibilities and the commissioners left last year, but the government’s directions remained in place.

Now, communities secretary James Brokenshire and the children’s minister Nadhim Zahawi have written to the council’s leadership confirming that the directions imposed on Rotherham would lapse on 31 March.

They said there was no evidence that suggests the government should seek to extend the directions or put in place new ones, and thanked the leadership for “helping to transform Rotherham from a failing authority to one that is reinvigorated and fully autonomous.”

The report from the commissioners read: “There is clarity on the council’s values and ethos and a whole council commitment to safeguarding young people.

“This gives confidence that the council will be vigilant in protecting the vulnerable, will avoid back-sliding or failure to address adverse issues as they arise.”

Council leader Chris Read commented: “The recent report reflects that huge progress that has been made over that period of time, not just in children’s services, but also the way we approach the big challenges that we face.

“The end of the intervention is an important milestone, and one that should give residents confidence in the changes that we have made.

“But we take nothing for granted, and we continue to work hard to deliver the services that people rely on.”

Sharon Kemp, the chief executive of the authority, added: “We are obviously pleased that the review confirms the progress made and makes clear the council remains committed to its continuous improvement.”

Image credit - Lynne Cameron/PA Archive/PA Images


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