Labour suspends Rotherham councillor who fell asleep during CSE meeting

LABOUR has suspended the whip of a long-standing councillor after he fell asleep during a meeting about child sexual exploitation.
SUSPENDED: Cllr Alan AtkinSUSPENDED: Cllr Alan Atkin
SUSPENDED: Cllr Alan Atkin

Cllr Alan Atkin, who chairs RMBC’s planning board, dozed off and was heard snoring in Tuesday’s Improving Lives Select Commission.

Conservative group leader Cllr Simon Ball called for Cllr Atkin to be suspended and removed from his position chairing the planning board, saying his conduct was “disgraceful” and “highly disrespectful”.

Cllr Ball added: “This councillor should have been removed years ago and this is just further kick in the teeth of those residents in Rotherham that have been affected.”

Fellow Tory Cllr Lewis Mills, who was at the meeting, said: “I could not believe my ears. If this is how he shows respect to the survivors when receiving an update on CSE, then he does not deserve to sit on this committee or represent Rotherham residents.”

Alexander Stafford, Conservative MP for Rother Valley, joined in the criticism on social media.

He said: “Absolutely shocking that a senior Labour councillor – who chairs one of the most important committees on the council – was asleep and snoring during a briefing on child sexual exploitation.

“Why do they not, even after all these years, take the protection of our girls seriously? Our girls have suffered for too long in Rotherham yet even now Labour won’t take it seriously.”

Cllr Chris Read, leader of Rotherham Council, said: “The Labour Party takes tackling child exploitation incredibly seriously.

“The response of the council to threats to children has been transformed under our leadership in recent years, as the presentation to Scrutiny this morning showed.

“Cllr Atkin’s conduct in the meeting was far from the standard of professionalism and diligence we expect from our elected officials, and as such we have suspended the whip from Cllr Atkin.”

He added: “We are a changed Labour Party, and the public have a right to know that all Labour Party elected officials are of the highest standard.”

Cllr Atkin said: “I did fall asleep for a couple of minutes. I suspect I have a sleep disorder. This incident has prompted me to seek a doctor’s appointment.”