Friday, October 9, 2015

News: Rotherham leaders: "enough is enough"

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A new petition has been launched which aims to draw Government attention to the significant adverse impact which the series of marches and demonstrations are having on Rotherham and the strength of feeling which exists.

Led by Cllr. Chris Read, Leader of Rotherham Council, leaders of Rotherham agencies, groups and communities have joined forces in a statement of solidarity, calling for a halt to the disruption caused by the protests and encouraging local residents and business people to sign up, and encourage everyone they know to do the same.

Under the banner of Enough is Enough, they have come together to galvanise a borough-wide commitment to promoting positive images of Rotherham and its prospects for the future, whilst reiterating the need for justice for the victims and survivors of child sexual exploitation, and discouraging any activity which detracts from these aims.

They call on the Government to look again at the current legislation around protest activity, given the number of marches which have taken place over the last 18 months in Rotherham and the impact on community relations. They refer to a number of what appear to be racially-motivated attacks on local people over recent weeks.

The petition adds weight to correspondence which Government Commissioners – appointed earlier this year to run Rotherham Council – and others in the town have already sent to the Home Secretary Teresa May in a bid to stop the demonstrations.

Earlier this month, the Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner called for an end to protests which have diverted more than £4m from police funds in the last three years.

Chief Constable David Crompton said: "Since October 2012 we have policed 20 protests in South Yorkshire, 14 of which have focused on Rotherham. Whilst we respect all individual's right to protest we must balance this against local people's right to enjoy their town centre, the businesses right to trade and the need to fund wider policing.

"I'm now seeking specialist legal advice to explore all our options around these protests. We are facing a situation the legislation was not designed to address."

Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings added: "Every protest diverts funds which could be better used not least in supporting more work in protecting vulnerable people. I have never yet had a victim or survivor of CSE or their families ask for this kind of outside intervention.

"On the contrary, those who I meet on the panel of survivors and their families are working with the police and do not welcome these distractions."

Rotherham retailers started a petition last year based on their rights to trade, asking the Government to change legislation so that economic impact, and other factors other than public safety, are taken into account so that marches can be banned, relocated, or re-timed.

Rotherham MP, Sarah Champion raised the issue in the House of Commons, asking the Government for increased policing powers to prevent marches when they are seen to continually target a particular area, and for additional support to be directed to businesses that were suffering as a result in Rotherham.

Cllr Chris Read, leader of Rotherham Council, said: "We acknowledge and respect that people – the vast majority of them from outside of Rotherham - have used their right to protest, and they've done so repeatedly. However, the protests have frightened people away from our town centre, they've damaged our local economy, and they haven't added anything to the very serious work that's being done to restore the council, tackle child sexual exploitation and to secure justice for those victims who have been let down.

"For Rotherham to recover we need the space to keep making that progress, not people being discouraged from being part of the community, from shopping in our town centre, from working and from going about their usual daily business. We've asked for the protests to cease in the interests of our town, but the organisers have refused. That is why we are backing the new legal avenues being explored by the police."

Mary Ney, commissioner at Rotherham Council, added: "The Secretary of State has appointed Commissioners to take Rotherham forward, because of the failings of the past. These continued marches serve no purpose, are impacting on our progress, and are putting at risk some of the good work that has been done on regenerating the town. Our local communities and businesses have been very tolerant, and more than anyone have the right to be angry about the failings of the past. They themselves are now saying that enough is enough."

Rotherham Council website

Images: Courtesy of chrisfp on Flickr, used under Creative Commons licence

1 comments:

Mr me October 9, 2015 at 10:30 AM  

Just a thought ;maybe if the public saw arrests and convictions of offenders ,council officials and poluce involved in the cover up,there wouldnt be need for demos.And the myth that the demos are all outsiders needs ending,more than half on demos are locals and have lots support in the town!

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