Council says ‘we’re sorry’ over fostering row

ROTHERHAM council chiefs have apologised for how they dealt with a decision to remove three children from a foster couple who were UKIP members.

Rotherham Borough Council said an investigation had concluded that the action taken to remove the children was in their “best interests”.

But it added in a statement that the way it handled the national media focus that followed, with children’s services director Joyce Thacker criticised following a live TV interview, could have been better.

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The council said: “The impression left following media interviews was that the removal of the children was solely because of the foster carers’membership of UKIP and the council apologises for this.

“As this is a child care case legal reasons continue to prevent us from releasing further details.

“However, we know that there are important lessons the council must learn.  

“As a consequence the council has taken action to strengthen the way it makes decisions, communicates and shares information.”

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The council statement clarified that membership of UKIP is not a bar to any individual  being considered as a foster carer in Rotherham and could not be a reason for removing foster children from a placement.

It concluded: “The council would again like to thank all the foster carers in our community for the devotion they show in looking after some of the most vulnerable children in the borough.”

The Record understands council chiefs were upset at reports that the council had removed the children from foster care when in fact the decision to end their period of emergency care was taken by an agency which had employed the couple.

Council officials believe they dealt with the agency fairly and in accordance with the agreed arrangements.

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A joint investigation was launched by the council and the Department for Education to looked into all the circumstances surrounding the dispute last November, which erupted just weeks before the Rotherham by-election.

Education secretary Michael Gove criticised the council at the time, saying its actions were “indefensible” and adding: “Rotherham Council have made the wrong decision in the wrong way for the wrong reasons.”

UKIP leader Nigel Farage: “Politically, I am not surprised at all.

“This is typical of the bigotry you get from the Labour party and Labour controlled councils.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We now consider this matter closed.”