FOLLOWING the recent election, I feel it is time to give my views and observations on the past year or so, since the commissioners arrived to provide guidance to the council on the way forward.
It is clear from what we have seen so far that commissioners came with a brief from the Secretary of State for Communities that their priority was the removal and reappointment of Rotherham’s senior management team, and little else. After all this is standard management practice in any business, the management responsible for the mess, are not the management to get you out of the mess. Hence we have seen them disappear one by one, but no one was ever held responsible or sacked, so how much of a problem has it really caused for these people. I would suggest, not much, because they all have new jobs at a salary equivalent to, or better than their salary from Rotherham. All still remain in local authorities; one in Leeds, Doncaster, Wigan …
My real concern however, is how did this happen? To get another senior post you require references, so who wrote the current employer references for these people, and what did they say about people who had clearly failed in their current post? Or were they offered a glowing reference to help them along the way? I have so far been unable to get answers. And what about the people who received those references, how much research did they do? The problems in Rotherham were known country-wide; surely someone would have been suspicious receiving a job application from a senior executive from Rotherham?
Similarly, we have a number of people who have joined us, for some new arrivals, it is too early to say whether or not we have gained? But in one case, an early arrival, there is a question mark over a serious service failure in the previous post. Thus again, I pose the same question, who wrote the reference, was their mention of this incident, and who researched the reference prior to appointment? My impression is that at a senior level in local government it is merely a merry-go-round.
Commissioners are also a mixed bag. I think Commissioner Mary Ney has done an excellent job. But there are questions and some issues with others you should know. If you ask questions the answers may fudged and they take time to answer. Such people do not come cheap, and Commissioner Newsom who has received around £100K of tax payer’s money has decided to move on with the job only half done. Who has sanctioned such action? We now need to bring in someone else to finish the job. A good person she may be, but there be a different approach and cost and tax payers again foot the bill to bring them up to speed.
Finally, there is the council itself. If ever there was a time for leadership this was it. It may have been prudent to retain those named in either the Jay or Casey report until the election. But to give Rotherham the fresh start it required this was the time to provide it. It is not acceptable for the leader to say they have been investigated by the party, no rules have been broken … This, after all is what we have heard from one politician after the other throughout the expenses scandal and beyond, indeed it still goes on.
This is a matter of integrity, decency and honesty, clearly words Labour and the leader no longer understand; if they ever did. It is not the fault of the electorate, as Labour supporters they can only vote for the candidates they are given. But the leadership has put two fingers up to the voters and those affected by CSE. And with that the whitewash is complete.
Allen Cowles, Sitwell Ward