Rotherham Council today expressed its ‘deep, deep sense of regret’ over the child abuse scandal but admitted: “No apology will take this away.”
Councillor were today discussing Professor Alexis Jay’s report which revealed 1,400 girls abused over 16 years.
Deputy leader Coun Paul Lakin told Rotherham Council’s cabinet meeting: “No apology will take this away but we are deeply sorry.”
Coun Ken Wyatt told the public councillors did not know the full scale of the abuse in the town.
But he told the meeting: “The clear message is children in Rotherham are safe now.”
Earlier a member of the public received a round of applause for asking councillors ‘are you telling me you couldn’t say anything or do anything?’.
And the public applauded when another person said: “I don’t know why you haven’t all resigned.”
Former Rotherham Coun Brian Cutts, aged 81, said he ‘knew about abuse eight years ago’ which prompted shouts of ‘you should be arrested’ from the public.
Mr Cutts said: “There isn’t one person in this room that doesn’t know the detail of what was going on.”
His claim prompted further calls for the resignation of the council
Councillors said they were not aware of allegations of taxis involved in abuse and Coun Lakin asked for evidence after meeting, although the information is in Prof Jay’s report.
Coun Wyatt claimed: “Rotherham by going on the front foot on this report has gone out there to alert the nation.
“I don’t duck it that political leadership is part of the jigsaw.”
Chief executive Martin Kimber said: “The long wait for the victims’ stories to be believed and accepted has now succeeded.”
Three members of the public stormed out of the meeting one shouting: “I have had enough. Resign all of you. Hang your heads in shame.”
Coun Lakin said four Labour councillors had been suspended and ‘there are others under investigation’.
Calls were also made for the resignation of Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright.
Coun Lakin said: “Of course Shaun Wright should resign and it’s shameful he has not yet done so.”
The public was reassured action will be taken over any further abuse claims.
Mr Kimber said: “You have my personal assurance that information will be looked at promptly, vigorously and we will take appropriate action.”
Coun Beck added: “As a Rotherham resident we must ensure no stone goes unturned to provide justice to the victims of this most heinous of crimes.”
The meeting was told six taxi drivers in seven years had been reported to the council and were all suspended where allegations involve children. New standards were now coming in.
Coun Beck asked the chief executive about more resources to deal with abuse and Mr Kimber replied ‘it goes without saying this is the top priority for the council’.
He added: “There are a series of recommendations from Jay report. We are already working to increase resource base significantly.”
Recommendations will be fed into next budget, Mr Kimber said
Coun Mahroof Hussain asked why some abusers got away with their crimes due to ‘ethnic origin’
He said: “Those people at that time who used the excuse of ethnic origin not to prosecute should be held to account. This is outrageous”
Coun Lakin assured the chief executive they would fully investigate and deal with ‘anyone involved’ in the Rotherham abuse scandal.