Wednesday 4 February 2015


Published today, the the Casey Report on Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) in the Yorkshire town of Rotherham, where around 1,400 vulnerable youngsters were subject to years of abuse by members of the Pakistani Heritage Community (PHC), makes for grim but essential reading.

The following appears at the end of a scathing and frequently heartbreaking account (in admirably clear language) of a Borough Council that was farcically dysfunctional, profoundly incompetent  and characterised by a bullying, sexist and (odd as it seems) 'politically correct' culture, a catalogue of failures compounded by shit-for-brains senior management. The impact of the Council's disgraceful and catastrophic lack of an appropriate response to the whole ghastly situation - their sole acknowledgement of the problem was simply to shut down Risky Business, a taxpayer-funded agency dedicated to tackling the issue of child grooming and sexual exploitation - has been horribly compounded by a culture of deceit and denial and back-biting by a bunch of public figures who are a disgrace to the community.

It was when I got to the deadpan note preceding 'Annex B' the list of the Council's 'achievements' that I started to splutter with a mixture of disbelief and contempt. Here it is in full:

Annex B

List of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council achievements

In their correspondence with the Inspection Team, the former Leader and Chief Executive each wished to highlight some of the council’s achievements in Rotherham during their tenure. These included:

  • Assisting Government through the Homes and Communities Agency to deliver on its housing programme in a town which has substantial housing need.
  • Revitalising its town centre which was commended by Mary Portas through the Government’s Portas Pilot programme. This increased footfall and saw a number of independent retailers open new businesses.
  • Building new town centre purpose built offices at Riverside House for better public access to the council. Introducing its shared services hub at Riverside House, delivering activity for other public sector partners whilst reducing overhead costs and driving cash releasing efficiencies.
  • Restoring the Town Hall.
  • Brokering Rotherham United to move into a new purpose built stadium in the town
  • Maintaining the Rugby Union club in the borough.
  • Supporting the Government’s Troubled Families initiative through its Families for Change programme
  • Supporting sector led improvement and development relating to the adult social
  • Achieving gold standard for Investors in People as well as its Equalities standards.
  • Introducing the Imagination Library to Rotherham (a book a month to every under 5 in the town).
  • Establishing the Ministry of Food in Rotherham.
  • Successfully managing to retain jobs and services in the face of continued budget reductions, including stimulating the local economy.
  • Both also pointed to improvements in aspects of the council’s performance.

Now I'm all for ambitious public sector housing projects, and 'revitalising' town centres, but after a promising start (and it's not hard to figure out why the disgraced leaders of the Council began with such proud achievements) what do we get? We get multi-million pound offices for the Council, a refurbished Town Hall, and football, and Rugby Union and (God help us) a 'gold standard for Investors in People' and the hideous sounding 'Imagination' (which I expect replaced a boring old library) As for the Ministry of Food - an 'initiative' linked to the celebrity telly chef Jamie Oliver - see here. That these achievements - by no means all of them negligible - were presented in the genuine belief that they in some way mitigated the Council's reckless irresponsibility when it came to preventing the systematic rape of minors is enough to make a cat sick. You'll note, by the way, how many of their 'achievements' involve buzzy, fizzy gerunds: Assisting, Revitalising, Restoring, Brokering, Supporting, Achieving, Establishing . . . and so on, and on. Try reading them aloud with a complacent Yorkshire accent. "Brokering Rotherham United to move into a new purpose built stadium in the town." You have to admire that 'purpose built'. I mean, you can't expect Rotherham United to play in, say, a cement works or a shipyard, can you? 

Most dispiritingly, the overwhelming majority of Councillors were members of the Labour party. Does this matter? Yes - it matters in the same sense that practically all the CSE perpetrators are members of the Pakistani Heritage Community. The damage, you see, leaks into the wider world. Crudely put it's guilt by association. The Labour leaders of Rotherham may be unrepresentative (and one hopes so) of Labour councillors generally but they serve to confirm our worst fears of autocratic lefties and unaccountable trough-swilling apparatchiks.  

To be sure not all Labour councillors are boorish and bullying sexist incompetents; just as not all members of the Pakistani Hertitage Community in Rotherham are Child Sexual Exploiters (although if they also happen to be licensed taxi drivers there's a dramatic spike in the demographic, or was). But I expect more, much more, from Labour councils and Labour councillors. I expect the kind of moral integrity that you expect to  find . . . well, where else can you find it?

How to feel about this? How to express those feelings? 'A book a month to every under 5 in town.' Jesus. 

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