Rotherham councillors call for Shaun Wright to quit - but say they won’t resign themselves

Coun Paul Lakin and Coun John Doyle
Coun Paul Lakin and Coun John Doyle
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Councillors in Rotherham have become the latest group to demand Shaun Wright’s resignation – as they simultaneously rejected calls for to stand down themselves.

A full council meeting of Rotherham Borough Council saw an emergency motion to demand the immediate resignation of the under-fire police and crime commissioner – who is a former Rotherham councillor – passed.

But councillors on the Labour group, which is the controlling party, rejected an amendment on the motion from opposition councillors that anyone who attended a 2005 seminar on child sexual exploitation in Rotherham and did not follow it up with any action should resign.

The Jay report revealed that some councillors had attended a meeting in which the extent and scale of grooming in Rotherham was discussed but no further action was taken.

Labour councillor Barry Kaye said further investigations were required.

“We are all guilty or culpable in some way or the other. But before everyone gets put to the guillotine there needs to be due process,” he said.

The meeting also saw deputy leader Paul Lakin offically elected as leader following the resignation of Coun Roger Stone, who had been in charge since 2003, in the immediate aftermath of the Jay report. Coun Lakin announced he would be dissolving the current cabinet and appointing new councillors.

He also said £120,000 of new funding will be directed to providing counselling services to victims of sexual abuse in the town – with the cash coming by reducing the number of cabinet members by two and stopping overseas trips for councillors.

Coun Lakin said he would be doing all he could to ‘regain the trust’ of the people of Rotherham in the wake of the scandal.

He said: “The people of Rotherham have been let down badly for too many years by several agencies in this town.

“Those children had the right to expect better from us and we failed them. The council accepts its full share of the blame. We are deeply, deeply sorry. For too long this council has had a closed culture of bullying and intimidation that was macho and sexist.

“We need to face up to the past and ensure these horrific events do not happen ever again.”

But Coun Caven Vines, from the UKIP group, said: “I can’t see how we can move forward when councillors mentioned in the report are refusing to stand down.”

Coun Lakin said that is was not just Labour councillors who had attended the seminar and the party was already investigating. Last week, Labour suspended Councillors Gwendoline Russell and Shaukat Ali, as well as the council’s former leader Roger Stone and ex-deputy leader Jahangir Akhtar.