ROTHERHAM Borough Council’s leader Roger Stone has quit after a report heavily criticised the council’s historic handling of child sexual exploitation.
Cllr Stone announced this afternoon that he was stepping down after an independent investigation into child sexual exploitation revealed the true scale of the issue in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013, with at least 1,400 children across the borough identified as being subject to appalling levels of crime and abuse.
The investigation led by former Government advisor Alexis Jay found that girls as young as 11 were raped by multiple perpetrators.
Ms Jay’s report also found there was a “macho”, “sexist” and “bullying” culture within the council which was “likely to have impeded the council from providing an effective, corporate response to such a highly sensitive social problem as child sexual exploitation.”
Cllr Stone apologised to the victims, saying he was “sending my heartfelt apologies to those young people and their families who this report shows have been badly let down by the council in the past”.
In a statement, he went on to add: “Having considered the report, I believe it is only right that I, as leader, take responsibility on behalf of the council for the historic failings that are described so clearly in the report and it is my intention to do so.
“For this reason, I have today agreed with my Labour group colleagues that I will be stepping down as leader with immediate effect.
“A new leader will be elected in due course.”
Council chief executive Martin Kimber also apologised, saying: “For a significant amount of time the council and its partners could and should have done more to protect young people from what must be one of the most horrific forms of abuse imaginable.”
Prof Jay’s report noted that support for victims had improved since 2009 but listed 15 recommendations.
For more details and reaction, see Friday’s Advertiser.