A TROUBLED parish council terminated its monthly meeting after members of the public confronted councillors about the Rotherham child sex abuse scandal.
Tensions were running high at the Anston Parish Council meeting last Monday after a member of the public called for councillors to stand down following the CSE scandal.
Security was drafted in ahead of the meeting, which chairman, Cllr John Ireland, terminated after an hour.
Resident Christine Sadler (72) asked during the public session for any councillor connected to the CSE scandal to admit they did not do their duty and to resign.
Cllr Jo Burton responded but Mrs Sadler said she was not happy with her answer.
Cllr Burton was vice-chairwoman to Ann Russell who headed up the children’s services scrutiny panel in 2007-09.
Mrs Sadler said she was unhappy with Cllr Burton’s response and said she “just waffled on”.
Cllr Burton said it was impossible to answer the question due to Mrs Sadler and her friend, Hilary Estrada-Haigh’s shouting.
Talking to the Advertiser, Cllr Burton she did not know about the high number of CSE victims, and apologised unreservedly on behalf of the council.
Cllr Burton said her job on the scrutiny panel was to read reports and visit services.
She said: “There were external reports done as well which also said the service was excellent.
“I looked at Risky Business and I was impressed by that service, that seemed to have a handle on it, and the Jay report says the same thing.
“So it was quite hard to say there were other things that we needed to be doing.
“We don’t have jurisdiction over the police.
“If they tell us they have an operation in place so they would appreciate it if people didn’t interfere with that, then we have to respect that.
“I felt we did have the appropriate services in place for CSE – but hindsight is a wonderful thing.”
Mrs Sadler also called for Cllrs Jo Burton, Robin Stonebridge and Ian St John to resign as she believed they had attended a seminar on CSE around 2004/05.
Cllr Burton said she did not attend that seminar.
Cllr Burton added: “After the seminar, both the Joint Area Review team and Ofsted, both of which are nationally recognised systems of inspections, known mostly for their rigour, gave us a good rating for our services.
“In fact, I think in one case it was excellent.
“The conclusion of the 2006 report says that ‘children appeared to be safe from abuse and exploitation’ and that there were effective systems in place for sharing information.
“It would not have been considered appropriate for councillors to question the findings of external and independent reports.”
Cllr Burton said she agreed with the Jay report stating there was a “macho culture” at the council, adding: “That was not helpful in trying to unpick a complex issue like CSE.
“I have great hopes of the new Cabinet.
“We have three good women in there, as well as four good men. It is a start.”
Cllr Ireland described the meeting as a “lynch party against Jo Burton”.
Mrs Sadler added afterwards: “It all got very fraught.
“It was obvious they were expecting trouble as police were sat outside in the car park and I am sure there was a security person, who no doubt would have been paid.”
Cllr Judy Dalton confirmed the council’s security man, who patrols the parish hall grounds, was in attendance.
The meeting has been rescheduled for Wednesday (24) at 7.30pm.