South Yorkshire council defends its UKIP foster ruling

UKIP members including candidate Jane Collins and Nigel Farage protest outside their campaign offices in Rotherham
UKIP members including candidate Jane Collins and Nigel Farage protest outside their campaign offices in Rotherham
Have your say

A COUNCIL has defended its decision to remove three ethnic minority children from their foster parents over their political beliefs as residents today branded the move ‘disgusting’.

Joyce Thacker, Rotherham Council’s director of children’s services said the children’s ‘cultural and ethnic needs’ did not fit with the parents’ ‘strong views’, as council leader Roger Stone announced he was launching an investigation.

Speaking exclusively to The Star, the foster mum at the heart of the row, who cannot be named to protect the children, said: “Joyce Thacker referred to us as not being able to meet the cultural needs of these children long term.

“My argument is that we feel we were actively encouraging the children to speak their own language and to teach us their language.

“We enjoyed singing one of their folk songs in their native language and took steps to ensure that a school of their denomination was found.”

Ms Thacker’s views were widely condemned by campaigners and MPs across the political divide.

Education Secretary Michael Gove called the decision ‘wrong’ and ‘indefensible’ while Labour leader Ed Miliband called for an urgent investigation.

The youngsters, all European migrants, were taken by social workers after they discovered their carers were members of the UK Independence Party - Ukip.

They were eight weeks into the foster placement when the children were moved to alternative foster families within a week.

“These sound like caring people with absolutely nothing against them other than a political affiliation,” said Rotherham resident Jack Carroll, 28.

“Is it right that nobody even bothered to ask them what their beliefs were before such drastic action was taken?”

Kelly Stringer, 26, also from the town said: “Rotherham Council has acted based on some idea they have of what these people are.

“That kind of discrimination just isn’t right. What’s next? Taking children away from gay couples?”

Ms Thacker said: “We always try to place children in a sensible cultural placement. These are not UK children and we were not aware of the foster parents’ political views. There are some strong views in the UKIP party and we have to think of the future of the children.”

Ukip leader Nigel Farage visited Rotherham on Saturday to show his support for the family. He met by election candidate Jane Collins at the party’s offices on Wellgate.