New leader of Rotherham Labour revealed

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A new leader and deputy leader for the Rotherham Labour group have been chosen, after the borough council’s cabinet stood down after a report into child sex abuse.

Former council leader Paul Lakin and his cabinet colleagues stood down earlier this month after a second report into child sexual exploitation, the Casey report, found the council was still in denial about the 1,400 victims of abuse identified in the explosive Jay report.

Now Coun Chris Read, who represents Wickersley, has been chosen as group leader - after just four years as a councillor.

His deputy will be Coun Gordon Watson, who was elected to the Wales ward in 2012.

They will work with Government commissioners who will be taking control of the council.

Coun Read said: “The process of changing Rotherham Council has already begun, but we will redouble our efforts to ensure people know we stand firmly on the side of residents.

“We need to face up to what has gone wrong in the past to make sure that the same mistakes aren’t made again. I am in no doubt about the challenge we face, but I am proud to be able to serve my town.”

Coun Read, who was chosen at a meeting of Rotherham’s Labour group last night, added: “I was still at school in Rotherham at the beginning of the period covered by Professor Jay’s report into child sexual exploitation.

“The victims could have been my friends and my classmates.

“So I take personally the need to provide better support to survivors, and to do all that we can to see that South Yorkshire Police and the National Crime Agency secure justice.

“There will be no quick fixes or easy answers. But I know that our community will pull together, and working with the government’s experts, we will do what we need to do.”