Councillor hits back at call to resign

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Controversial parish council meetings in Anston took a new twist, when a councillor was asked to resign over the Rotherham child-grooming scandal.

Coun Josephine Burton was the subject of the demand issued by a member of the public at a recent meeting.

A call was issued for Coun Burton to step down until an independent inquiry into the child sex abuse scandal was complete.

The parishioner justified the call for resignation by saying that in 2007 and 2008, Coun Burton was vice-chair of Rotherham Council’s children and young persons’ scrutiny panel, and retained a seat in 2009.

The panel was recently the subject of a damning Government review for its apparent failure to protect a number of young people from abuse.

But Coun Burton hit back at the suggestion she should resign, suggesting it had more to do with parish council politics than genuine concern,

“Child sexual exploitation is an horrendous crime, and as we know, it is going on in all our towns and cities - not just here in the UK, but across the globe,” she said.

“I welcome the recent announcement by RMBC that an independent inquiry has been commissioned to look into historical CSE issues, and if I am asked to help I will be pleased to do so.”

“I became a member of the council’s scrutiny panel at least five years after the issue had received prominence.”

“There is absolutely no link between my membership of the scrutiny panel and the committing of grooming crimes.”

“I fear that the request has more to do with the politics being played out at Anston Parish Council than a concern to improve the scrutiny of child protection services in Rotherham.”

In August, Rotherham Council’s deputy leader, Jahangir Akhtar, stepped down temporarily over claims he knew of a relationship between a girl in care and a man who went on to abuse her.

An inquiry is under way and he denies all claims made against him.