End of intervention at Rotherham Council

Published Wednesday, 27th March 2019
The Town Hall in Rotherham
Rotherham Town Hall

Rotherham Council’s period of government intervention formally comes to an end this weekend, the Secretary of State for Local Government has confirmed.

Last September Ministers removed the three remaining Commissioners from the Council, but required a further independent health check of progress before the planned end of the intervention period.

In their review, which is published for the first time today, the former Commissioners endorsed the ending of the intervention, saying “the pace of improvement across the Council has increased beyond [their] expectations, which bodes well for future prospects”, adding that “the political and managerial leadership of the Council have re-established the Council’s moral compass. There is clarity on the Council’s values and ethos and a whole council commitment to safeguarding young people. This gives confidence that the council will be vigilant in protecting the vulnerable, will avoid back-sliding or failure to address adverse issues as they arise.”

Following the health check, today the Government has published a letter confirming that the intervention will formally come to an end as planned this Sunday, 31 March.

In a joint letter to the Council Leader and Chief Executive released on the Government website today Secretary of State for Communities James Brokenshire and Children’s Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “We are writing to confirm that we are content to let the Directions in Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council lapse on 31 March 2019. Further to the recent Independent Review, led by former Lead Commissioner Mary Ney we see no evidence that suggests that Government should seek to extend these Directions or put in place new ones.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank you both for your leadership, helping to transform Rotherham from a failing authority to one that is reinvigorated and fully autonomous.”

Council Leader Cllr Chris Read said: “Over the last four years, Rotherham Council has undergone a transformation. The recent report reflects that huge progress that has been made over that period of time, not just in Children’s Services, but also the way we approach the big challenges that we face. The end of the intervention is an important milestone, and one that should give residents confidence in the changes that we have made. But we take nothing for granted, and we continue to work hard to deliver the services that people rely on.”

Chief Executive Sharon Kemp added: “The review highlighted that the progress made since September has surpassed the expectations of the former Commissioners and that the Council has regained its moral compass.

“We are obviously pleased that the review confirms the progress made and makes clear the Council remains committed to its continuous improvement.”

She added the Council acknowledges the challenges identified with regard to the delivery of the medium term financial plan and the authority’s performance targets, but said it was good to see the review team were reassured that the Council can deliver on these.

The Council was placed under the control of five Commissioners after Dame Louise Casey’s report in 2015 found significant failings at the Council that contributed to child sexual exploitation in Rotherham. The team reduced to three in recent years as powers were gradually returned after the Council has worked hard to turn services around.

To view the Ministerial letter and independent report:

View the Government's documents