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Children's services boss resigns

Rotherham's director of children's services has resigned in the wake of the report which detailed how at least 1,400 children had been subjected to sexual abuse in the town.

Joyce Thacker has been under pressure to step down since the publication of the Jay Report.

Rotherham Council confirmed Mrs Thacker "is to leave Rotherham Borough Council by mutual agreement, with immediate effect".

Mrs Thacker, who was the deputy director of children's services before she headed the department from 2008, has been at the centre of the controversy sparked by the Jay Report, which highlighted the widespread exploitation of children in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013.

Earlier this month she was grilled by MPs on the Commons Home Affairs committee who called for her to step down from her post.

And, yesterday, the council confirmed Mrs Thacker had been on sick leave since Monday. A spokeswoman said it was not appropriate to discuss the reason for her absence.

News of her sick leave was greeted with further calls for her to resign from Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Home Affairs committee.

Mrs Thacker's is just a latest of a series of resignations in the wake of the damning report.

Council leader Roger Stone was the only person to step down immediately after it was published.

As the pressure mounted, council chief executive Martin Kimber also stepped down followed by the South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner (PCC), Shaun Wright.

Mr Wright, who was the councillor responsible for children's services in Rotherham between 2005 and 2010, resisted widespread calls for him to go for three weeks before he resigned earlier this week.

He will be replaced by the winner of a PCC by-election scheduled for October 30.

Last week, Ms Thacker told Mr Vaz's committee that she had given a "lot of thought" to resigning but insisted she had "worked hard" to improve services in Rotherham.

Asked what she and Mr Wright had done about the problem, Ms Thacker replied: "We knew about child sexual exploitation and abuse but we didn't know the scale of it ... I have worked tirelessly to improve things in Rotherham and make sure that people understood it was everyone's business to stop this."

But Mr Vaz said the whole committee believed Ms Thacker should quit.

Mrs Thacker has fronted Rotherham Council's responses to a series of controversies over the last couple of years.

In 2012 she was forced to defend a decision to remove three foster children from a couple because they were Ukip supporters.

She explained that there were concerns over the party's stance on multiculturalism.

Mrs Thacker joined Rotherham Council in 2006 as deputy director of children's services and took the top job in 2008. Her salary was £130,000-a-year.

Today's council statement said: " Joyce Thacker, Strategic Director for Children and Young People's Services, is to leave Rotherham Borough Council by mutual agreement, with immediate effect.

"The council will be making no further statement at this stage."

Mr Vaz said she "ought to have resigned 10 days ago when requested by the Home Affairs Select Committee" and called for her to be denied any payout from the council.

He said: " Rotherham deserves a fresh start. This will provide one. It would not have been right for her to continue.

"I do not think it would be appropriate for Ms Thacker or Mr Kimber to receive any payouts."

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