The contents of the report into the systematic abuse of young children in Rotherham are as horrendous in their nature as they are appalling due to the failure and complicity of those who were tasked with protecting the victims of these vile crimes.
Police officers, social workers, council officers and politicians are among those who had a duty of care and who it appears did the exact opposite and ensured that the abuse continued without the necessary and expected intervention.
A crime is a crime no matter what the race or religion of the accused. In fact it seems the focus on race and religion has been the primary barrier to protecting these young people from harm. No matter who a perpetrator may be, such accusations must be investigated properly and the victims treated in the appropriate way. How victims in Rotherham were neglected and how their families treated speaks volumes for how deep the roots of this problem run.
But I’m certain this is not a problem unique to Rotherham. A very bright light must be shone into the shadows where this abuse has been allowed to flourish. And, in my view, at anyone, past or present, who had had any involvement in enabling, covering up or disregarding this abuse. If these people are in positions of authority or trust then they should not remain there. Anyone who has been complicit, intentionally or unintentionally, should feel the full force of the law.
I expect police forces and local authorities elsewhere are already looking at their own past behaviour in light of what has happened in Rotherham. If not then I hope they will be forced to, and quickly.
It was with genuine sadness that I learned of the death of Margaret Bates, a former Conservative councillor and Mayor of Kirklees. Her funeral will take place today in Batley.
I know Margaret’s health had been an issue for some time, the main factor in her early retirement as a ward councillor. This was a job I know she took seriously and worked very hard at. It is testament to her commitment that even with all the issues in her personal life she still managed to perform her duties as a councillor.
Margaret was always a supreme political operator and one it was very easy to work with. You always knew where she stood on issues and you would always know where you stood with her!
I dare say that Margaret will be best known for her time as mayor. She was one of those people perfectly suited to being mayor, one of a very rare number where you hope they can do more than just their one permitted year! She was unfalteringly dignified but with a real common touch. Her ability to put people at ease meant she was a natural as mayor and incredibly popular during her year in office.
She will be missed on all sides of the political divide.