- Government has now revealed it is reviewing decision to give cash to the town
- Levelling Up Secretary Greg Clark said he would look again at the funding
- This decision was agreed by his predecessor Michael Gove last November
A town at the centre of one of Britain’s most notorious child sex scandals has been named as the world’s first Children’s Capital of Culture.
But the Government has now revealed it is reviewing the decision to award Rotherham £1.8million in taxpayer cash to fund the year-long initiative in 2025.
The South Yorkshire town hit the news in 2011 when allegations emerged of widespread child sexual exploitation.
It was described at the time as one of the biggest child protection scandals in British history after it was revealed that children in care homes were being groomed.
A report into Rotherham’s handling of the incident concluded that an estimated 1,400 children had been sexually abused in the town between 1997 and 2013, predominantly by British-Pakistani men.
But despite its tarnished reputation, the city has now been selected to be the inaugural Children’s Capital of Culture in 2025 – described by the local authority as ‘365 extraordinary days… of imagination, creativity and community. Packed with music and magic. Dance and drama. Films and food. Exhibitions and events’.
As well as the £1.8million from the Cultural Recovery Fund, it was also due to receive £13,600 from Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and has been awarded £76,100 in National Lottery grants.
Yesterday, after The Mail on Sunday began raising questions, Levelling-Up Secretary Greg Clark said he would look again at the funding, which was agreed by his predecessor Michael Gove last November.
Town councillor Dave Sheppard said: ‘We’re making improvements that will help change the perception of Rotherham.’
A launch festival in February featured a Truth to Power Café where local youngsters told personal stories to answer the question ‘Who has power over you and what do you want to say to them?’.
Julie Dalton, of the Children’s Capital of Culture Programme Board, said it’s ‘the boldest demonstration of Rotherham’s commitment to empowering children and young people to have a voice and play an active role in its future’.
But John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘Taxpayers are tired of shelling out for tin-eared cultural schemes. The first Children’s Capital of Culture should be scrapped and funding funnelled into front-line services.’
The campaign group revealed that the Department for Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) granted £31,690,000 to British city of culture winners since 2012, while £4,003,438 of taxpayers’ money had been spent on failed submissions.
The DLUHC said: ‘The Secretary of State is reviewing the award.’
New PM must order inquiry into shameful abuse
By Georgia Edkins, Whitehall Correspondent for The Mail on Sunday
The new government must launch a nationwide inquiry into grooming gangs without fear of being accused of racism, the majority of British people say.
A poll by the Northern Policy Foundation think-tank has shown the public is acutely aware of the sickening ‘rape’ syndicates operating on our streets. More than half of respondents believe victims of abuse gangs have been let down by the authorities.
A similar proportion believe the police’s fear of being called ‘racist’ has stopped them cracking down on the groups. Now, 80 per cent think there should be a judge-led nationwide inquiry in a bid to finally get a grip on the scourge of exploitative gangs.
Last night, Tom Lees, director of the Northern Policy Foundation, said events such as those in Rotherham are ‘a shameful stain on the conscience of the UK’.
He added: ‘We need the new PM to order an urgent judge-led public inquiry to look at the toxic culture within the police and local authorities that led to so many victims being failed.’
A number of individual probes have been carried out into gangs over the years, including one published last month which revealed that mass sexual abuse of young girls in the Telford area went unchecked for more than 30 years.