Council to have powers returned after more than three years

Rotherham council is to have its powers returned and government intervention withdrawn after more than three years.

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire MP has announced that the changes will be implemented on Monday, 24 September.
The intervention, which was jointly undertaken by the Ministry and the Department for Education, began in February 2015 following critical reports by Baroness Alexis Jay and Dame Louise Casey which uncovered significant failings at the council that contributed to child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.
Brokenshire confirmed that following strong progress by the council he will return control of all services to them, including children’s social care, and withdraw all three commissioners.
He added that this was on condition that the council commissions an independent progress review of delivery of services to be completed by 18 February 2019, before the directions expire on 31 March 2019.

The action follows the gradual return of selected functions to the council on four separate occasions since the intervention began in February 2015.

Brokenshire said: “Vulnerable young people who should have been protected were repeatedly failed by Rotherham council, which is why the government stepped in to ensure these errors can never occur again.
I am pleased that strong progress has now been made at the council with the support of the commissioners.

“The return of all powers to Rotherham council is not a decision that I take lightly, but I am satisfied that the council has learnt the lessons of the past and is now able to provide the services its residents deserve and expect.

Minister for Children and Families, Nadhim Zahawi MP said: “Every child, wherever they live, needs to have access to the right care and support so they can flourish in life. For too long the people of Rotherham were let down by the authorities in charge of protecting them.

“The handing back of local children’s services to the council marks an important step for this town. I am pleased that vulnerable children in Rotherham are now getting the help they need when they need it, and I hope to see continuing improvements through the independent review next year.

Rotherham council leaders welcomed the news. Council Leader Cllr Chris Read said: “Today’s confirmation of the early departure of Commissioners from the Council is testimony to the hard work of many people over the last few years.

“The announcement comes on the back of our “Good” Ofsted report for children’s services earlier in the year. That our Children’s Services have been transformed has been a critical indicator of the changes that we have made. But it has only been one part of challenging, re-examining, and improving the way we work and the culture of the Council.

“We could not be where we are today if it wasn’t for the dedication of lots of people – our staff, partner agencies, Commissioners and councillors – who were all united in determination that the people of Rotherham should be better served than they had been in the past. My thanks go to all those people today.

“I’m delighted with the progress that we have made. Whilst the work is never complete and we continue to face significant challenges I hope that residents will be able to take assurance that we are firmly on the right track.”

Chief Executive Sharon Kemp added: “Over the past four years there have been significant changes here at the Council, including changes across the leadership.

“Today’s announcement is pleasing however we continue to focus on constantly improving outcomes for all our residents and stakeholders.”

 

Lead Commissioner Mary Ney said: “The Commissioners are pleased that the continuous hard work of members, officers and partners in Rotherham has resulted in sufficient improvement for democratic decision-making to be restored to the Council.

“Whilst the Council still faces challenges we have confidence that the leadership of the Council is strong and will work hard to address these. We would like to thank the Council and all of the members and staff we have worked with for their efforts and commitment and we wish the Council, its partners and Rotherham well for the future.”

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