Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Rotherham Council chief executive Jan Ormondroyd apologises for failure to act

A child in Rotherham Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The inspection team reviewed approximately 7,000 documents and met more than 200 people

The interim chief executive of Rotherham Council has apologised for its failure to act over the scandal of child sexual exploitation in the town.

Jan Ormondroyd, said the council "should have done more in the past" and apologised for the "devastating impact" it had had on people in Rotherham.

Government commissioners are lined up to intervene after a report said the authority was "not fit for purpose".

The council leader has resigned and the council cabinet is to quit.

"Louise Casey's report describes a catalogue of cultural and system failings, and we have accepted its findings," Ms Ormondroyd said.

Ms Casey was asked by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to inspect the council in the wake of the Jay Report in August 2014.

The Jay inquiry found 1,400 children were abused by gangs of men, mainly of Pakistani origin, from 1997 to 2013.

A senior Labour councillor in Rotherham admitted the council "failed to deal with" child sex abuse and there had been a "culture of denial" within the authority.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5live, Councillor Chris Read said: "I don't think, hand on heart, that anybody set out to cover up abuse - deliberately to do that - but clearly things went very badly wrong along the way.

"Child sexual exploitation is a difficult issue to deal with in every community."

'Guard their reputations'

Ms Ormondroyd said she had written to the Department for Communities and Local Government, urging it to confirm who the five commissioners to take over the running of the council would be.

"In the meantime, the people of Rotherham will not see any disruption to the way in which we delivery our day-to-day services for citizens," she added.

Council leader Paul Lakin and his colleague Mahroof Hussain, who held the environment portfolio, both resigned from the cabinet and as councillors on Wednesday.

In a joint statement the men said: "After the publication of the Jay Report in August last year, it became clear that there were many people in Rotherham more anxious to guard their reputations than protect the children of Rotherham.

"In our view, none of those appointed to the new cabinet on 10 September 2014 was in denial.

"The whole cabinet tried its best rapidly to heal the town's wounds and rebuild trust in the council, but a culture established over decades is difficult to overhaul completely in a few weeks."

Meanwhile, John Doyle has also confirmed his immediate resignation as the cabinet member for adult social care and health. He remains as a councillor.

The rest of the council's cabinet announced their intention on Wednesday to resign their cabinet positions as soon as transitional arrangements were put in place.

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