Rotherham and Liverpool

LpoolTH

Liverpool Town Hall

Yesterday Cllr Steve Radford and I decided not to take part in a meeting with Joe Anderson and Ged Fitzgerald about what happened in Rotherham in the last decade. For different reasons we overcame reservations that we had about the process when we initially agreed to take part but a lot has happened in the 5 weeks since then. Not least being the resignations of two people connected with the Rotherham scandal and further revelations only this past weekend about the failure to use available evidence.

We believe now that the process being suggested is flawed and that we should wait to consider a Liverpool response when we have clear evidence from the 2 parliamentary and DCLG investigations taking place. Then we can meet and decide what, if anything, we should do.
Here is the e-mail that we have sent to Mayor Anderson

From: Kemp, Richard
Sent: 21 October 2014 11:14
To: Anderson, Joe (Mayor of Liverpool)
Subject:

Dear Joe,

Re: Proposed meeting with Ged Fitzgerald

We are writing regarding the proposed meeting with Ged Fitzgerald.

We have serious concerns about the structure and point of this meeting:

We have taken independent legal advice and have been advised that it is entirely proper for an employer to question an employee about events that took place before they joined their current organisation.

We do not know and have not agreed the name of an independent chair.

We have been told by you that this cannot be an interrogative session.

We understood that it was likely that there would be a written statement from Mr Fitzgerald and that we would then submit written questions for written answer. This would now appear not to be the case.

Although this was not discussed we assumed that this meeting would take place in public and would therefore be on the record.

Given these concerns we will not be participating in the meeting. Given that new allegations about the way that Rotherham Council responded to information about child abuse that was given to them whilst Mr Fitzgerald was Chief Executive and the fact that there are two parliamentary enquiries and a DCLG investigation being undertaken we believe that it would be best for Group Leaders to convene when the results of these enquiries and investigations have concluded.

At that stage the Council could decide corporately what steps it wishes to take given the comprehensive nature of those activities which we cannot hope to replicate. Both the Parliamentary Select Committees and DCLG have the power to compel responses to questions in a way that we cannot.

We look forward to working with you on an agreed all party basis in the New Year.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Steve Radford                                                Cllr Richard Kemp CBE,
Liberal Party Group Leader                               Liberal Democrat Group Leader

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About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. . Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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9 Responses to Rotherham and Liverpool

  1. Catherine says:

    This whole thing sounds peculiar and extraordinarily evasive.
    You state that “we have been told by you that this cannot be an interrogative session”.
    Were you given any reason for this, or for why the statement, written question, written answer procedure you had previously assumed would be used would not apply?
    What exactly were you told would be the structure of the meeting?
    Were you told all this in writing (email ecc)?

  2. Catherine says:

    Correction: just to clarify, the evasive refers to Anderson and Fitzgerald, not you,

  3. Catherine says:

    You may not have seen that the BBC have just published a link to documents detailing the concerns of the Rotherham researcher that were shown in private to the Home Affairs Committee. Here’s the link: http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/home-affairs-committee/child-sexual-exploitation-and-the-response-to-localised-grooming-followup/written/12361.pdf
    It names all the people involved, including our current CEO. Please pursue this.

    • richardkemp says:

      Thanks as always for this. Just re reading the stuff sbout LDL . It seems a farce.

      • Catherine says:

        It is. The initial announcement was very carefully crafted, hinging on the money that would now be saved, and the fact that the work and jobs would return to the council, which is what a lot of people wanted. A great attempt to just wrap it up and move on. But when you think about it, what is actually being proposed is a missed opportunity for the Council, and a fabulous opportunity for the usual suspects to bury all sorts of highly incriminating information.
        The opportunity is the chance to continue to own a highly successful company. Although it doesn’t look like it on paper, and the Council have always acted as if they know nothing about the 3rd party business until very recently, LDL has an established reputation for providing services to all sorts of businesses and organisations (including the council-owned Arena, which spends substantial sums on LDL’s services – booking, IT, etc.)
        Why give up on all this? At a time when local authorities are supposed to be seeking ways of maximising their assets, etc. etc., why wind up a successful operation?
        The concerns about the excessive costs and related opacity of its operations would be fully resolved by simply taking full ownership of the company, which appears to finally be about to happen. This would make it subject to FOI, with all the transparency and accountability that that entails. And then just run it. That way LDL could continue to provide the services it does to 3rd parties, but actually get paid for doing it, offsetting the costs of the services it provides to the Council. That is how it was supposed to work, according to the JVA, and it is a perfectly sensible idea. But If the company is wound up all this work will go somewhere else. No prize for guessing where.

        The fabulous opportunity is to get rid of incriminating information, and this is far worse, and far more serious, ultimately, than missing the opportunity to generate some income. Here the Rotherham statement is particularly illuminating (disappearing files and documents, false minutes, etc. etc.) – it sets out the modus operandi at Rotherham on the watch of the man who supposedly negotiated the end of LDL on our behalf. How can anyone have any faith whatsoever that he will have done the right thing (for anyone other than himself and his best mate McElhinney.
        The LDL accounts – the real ones, with the 3rd party stuff, bonuses, etc. etc., combined with the official records of the company – the false accounts submitted to Companies House, will provide definitive proof of the fact that the council, as a shareholder, has been defrauded for years. This kind of thing (providing accounts that do not provide a true picture of the business of the company) is a specific offence under the Fraud Act. It is by far the best chance of bringing people to book. All the previous investigations and scandals, and the current police investigation in Lancashire have all been unable to do this, because it is hard to establish criminal intent from inflated prices, unprofessional behaviour, conflicts of interest, etc. etc., reprehensible though they are. Filing dodgy accounts is clear, and easy to establish, with the real accounting records. The fact that the timetable proposed for winding up the company is so long is a clear indication that they intend to edit, amend and/or disappear the records of the company. It really doesn’t take long to wind up a company.

        I know I rant on and on about this, but it’s like watching a train wreck in slow motion. The amount of money involved is enormous, and for people to just walk away, having lined their pockets at our expense, is truly disgraceful. Please please use whatever influence or contacts you have to do something about this.

  4. Catherine says:

    I omitted the most important bit: as soon as BT’s share of the company has been transferred to the Council, there needs to be an immediate full audit. This will cost a fair bit, I know, but the cost will be dwarfed by the amount of money the Council will ultimately be able to claw back.

  5. Catherine says:

    You will have seen tonight’s article about the shocking farce today. But perhaps you didn’t see the article on the BBC News quoting Joe Anderson

    “On Wednesday, Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said Merseyside needed to have an elected mayor to “make a real difference” to the people of the region and he would be interested in running for the role.
    He told the BBC mayors brought “a new focus previously lacking locally, nationally and internationally” to cities and wider urban conurbations.
    “Having a directly elected mayor has put Liverpool firmly on the front foot – long-term challenges of economic and population decline have been overcome and the city has transformed its infrastructure, its appearance and its image – and it can work for other cities too.
    “The city has a grasp on its future like never before. The people have greater involvement in the decisions that affect their lives – the very definition of democracy. But this can only work if we get are more resources and more powers. Politicians elected locally are better placed to make decisions about the places they govern,” he said.

    I have a pretty low opinion of him, as you know – but in all honesty, even I didn’t expect him to take the credit for all sorts of things that happened before he even came to power, in addition to whatever has been achieved since then. He really does seem to be on another planet.
    The article is here: website http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-29849343

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