England

Eric Pickles names new Rotherham Council leaders

Girl on a swing in Rotherham Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption More than 1,400 children were subjected to rape, trafficking and grooming in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013

Five government commissioners have been selected to run Rotherham Council after a report found the local authority "not fit for purpose" over its handling of child sexual exploitation in the town.

Sir Derek Myers, Stella Manzie, Malcolm Newsam, Mary Ney and Julie Kenny will head the council until 31 March 2019.

They replace the cabinet following the Casey Report's criticism of its woeful response to child exploitation.

Last year the Jay Report found 1,400 children had been subjected to abuse.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has also promised £250,000 to help set up an outreach project to help victims.

He said the commissioners would remain in control of Rotherham Council until the end of March 2019, but added that powers would likely be passed back to the local authority throughout that period.

He said: "I expect that there will be a phased roll back of powers to the authority as and when there can be confidence that the authority could exercise a function in compliance with the best value duty, and in the case of children's social care, to the required standard."

Sir Derek will be lead commissioner and command fees of £800 a day, Ms Manzie will take the role of the managing director commissioner with an annual fee of £160,000 and Mr Newsam will be nominated as children's social care commissioner.

Ms Ney and Ms Kenny will be supporting commissioners. The latter three will all be paid fees of £700 a day.

Rotherham Council has been told it will be expected to pay the commissioners' fees plus any "reasonable expenses".

'Elections in 2016'

The youth project funding will be provided with the aim of setting up an organisation similar to the Risky Business project, which repeatedly raised the issue of child abuse in the town before effectively being closed down by the council.

"Risky Business is now missing from Rotherham," said Mr Pickles. "This should not continue, and historic victims of child sexual exploitation should be given the help they need."

Mr Pickles said elections would be held in Rotherham in 2016 but rejected a Ukip call to put the whole council up for election in the forthcoming May poll.

He said: "I have carefully considered this, but I am clear that making such a change only some two months before the elections is neither practicable nor desirable."

Councillors elected in Rotherham next year will have to work under the instructions of the commissioners.

Sir Derek was knighted last year for services to local government in London.

Until he retired in November 2013, he was chief executive of the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea at the same time.

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