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Commissioners tell ministers: 'End intervention in Rotherham'

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Rotherham MBC’s commissioners have recommended to ministers that the government-led intervention in the authority comes to an end.

The council was placed under the control of three government appointed commissioners in 2015 after a number of reports highlighted serious failings across the authority in the aftermath of its child sexual exploitation scandal.

In a statement yesterday, the commissioners recommended to ministers that Rotherham’s improvement journey now continues without their oversight. This follows an ‘independent health check’ which found the council’s governance, decision-making and organisational culture was “much improved”.

Lead commissioner Mary Ney said: “Commissioners have seen significant improvement in Rotherham council which is evident from the independent health check report.

“Members, council officers and partners have worked hard to achieve this and commissioners are confident that the council can continue to make good progress.”

Rotherham’s leader Chris Read (Lab) said: “The health check report confirms our view that the council is on the right track, we have seen significant improvements over the last three years, and whilst we continue to face the same challenges as many other local authorities we are now in a strong position to move on from commissioner intervention.”

Chief executive Sharon Kemp added: “We will never be complacent about the issues in Rotherham, but this report is a welcome recognition of the improvements that have been made.”

The health check was carried out between 27 February and 2 March 2018 by a team including Frances Done, a government commissioner with Birmingham City Council, Irene Lucas, Sunderland City Council chief executive, and Imogen Walker (Lab), Lambeth LBC’s deputy leader.

Rotherham will now have to wait for a response from ministers to the commissioners’ recommendations.

In January Rotherham’s children’s services were rated ‘good’ for the first time since the child sexual exploitation scandal in the town.

Last September Rotherham regained five powers including control of its human resources services and management of assets, although commissioners retained the right to veto cabinet decisions relating to domestic violence issues. The council had regained a further eight powers in the previous nine months.

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