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Louise Casey to lead new Rotherham investigation

Solace, which represents local authority chief executives, has welcomed the appointment of Louise Casey to lead the independent inspection of Rotherham council.

Casey, who has held a number of senior government roles centring on anti-social behaviour and troubled families, has been appointed by communities secretary Eric Pickles to investigate the council’s governance, its children’s and young people services, and its taxi licensing function.

It will also examine the issue of ‘institutionalised political correctness’ in the town, where about 1,400 children were subject to trafficking, rape and other sexual exploitation in between 1997 and 2013. A report by Professor Alexis Jay said the crimes had been virtually ignored by the council, police and other agencies.

PA-20804690 resize 635460285122409000The council’s chief executive Martin Kimber, who has been hauled before two parliamentary committees this week, has already announced that he is to step down, but director of children’s services Joyce Thacker (pictured) seems determined to stay in her post. “All of us could have done more,” she told the communities committee yesterday.

Council leader Roger Stone resigned after the Jay report, and yesterday the council’s ruling Labour cabinet was dissolved for a fresh one to be formed.

The abuse scandal is also having an impact in Liverpool, where mayor Joe Anderson is meeting other political leaders in the city on Friday to discuss the future of its chief executive Ged Fitzgerald, who held the same role in Rotherham from 2001-3, when the abuse was ongoing.

Discussing the appointment of Louise Casey, Mark Rogers, president of Solace and chief executive of Birmingham, said: “Solace welcomes the announcement that Louise Casey will lead the independent inspection into Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council in relation to the council’s exercise of its functions on governance, children and young people and taxi and private hire licensing.

“Recent events tell us that there are systemic problems in how society deals with child sexual exploitation. Louise’s background will ensure that the review explores the root causes of the problems at Rotherham and their wider implications. Her track record of successfully pursuing radical solutions to wicked issues and her ability to look beyond symptoms to address the underlying causes will help uncover the lessons of these terrible events.

“Public servants play a vital role in protecting the vulnerable and we will proactively work with colleagues to ensure the lessons of past failures are learnt.”

(Image of Louise Casey with David Cameron courtesy Number 10. Crown Copyright / Creative Commons. Image of Joyce Thacker: Lynne Cameron / PA)

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