Last night, Rochdale Momentum sent out the following tweet:
@momentumrhm are devastated to hear that the extremely active and very hard working Secretary of Rochdale CLP has decided to resign in part due to the non-suspension of Richard Farnell by @UKLabour. We wish her well for the future and commend her moral approach on this issue.
— Momentum Rochdale (@momentumrhm) November 30, 2017
The SKWAWKBOX has covered allegations against Rochdale Council leader Richard Farnell – which he has denied – that he knew about abuse of children at Knowl View in Rochdale and did not report it.
Mr Farnell has also been accused by former senior councillor Peter Joinson, in formal testimony to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) of ‘not telling the truth’ to the inquiry about what he knew:
Those allegations have been echoed by other witnesses to the inquiry, prompting an ITV journalist to ask the council leader:
Any reaction to the evidence in London that you read reports on the abuse at Knowl View when you were leader in the 1990’s?
— matt o'donoghue (@MattODigs) October 12, 2017
Now, amid allegations that supporters of Cllr Farnell attempted to prevent a vote on a motion by the CLP (constituency Labour party) calling for his suspension, the Secretary of the CLP has resigned after sending the following letter to CLP members, which the SKWAWKBOX brings you exclusively:
I am sorry to have to report that I have resigned as Secretary of Rochdale CLP.
I am no longer able to be part of a local leadership that has defended Simon Danczuk, voted for 34% councillor allowances in a time of austerity and now, most importantly, defend the current Council Leader of Rochdale Council around the issue of CSA. On many occasions, the membership has tried to voice their concerns to reflect these issues and have been met with censorship and manoeuvering, rather than political debate.
I believe that we have not shown local victims of CSA that the local Party supports them, despite the various members’ resolutions across the borough calling the National Party to act. This lack of support is compounded by the National Party in not suspending the Leader, given the evidence, while an investigation takes place as happens in the case of any professional. This lack of action from the Party over the Inquiry is putting unnecessary public and personal pressure on myself and other members who are facing the wrath of the public after having seen and heard the evidence. This lack of action is sending out the wrong signals to the public but especially to the victims, who are the most important people in the Inquiry, who have stated their views publicly on a number of occasions that they wish the Party to act. I do not want to be a party to this inaction. These are the political reasons for my resignation.
I am unable to email the Chair as she is not on email. This has caused me considerable difficulties being unable to communicate with the Chair over these past nine months. I have been in the Labour Party recently for two years and would have appreciated assistance from the Chair with such a huge task. As a teacher myself, as was the Chair, I know that you are required to be fairly competent with IT and how emails are set up. In fact, it would be difficult to do the job without having an email account. I have had to call the Chair’s landline, mobile and texted which were often not answered and often at crucial times. I think it should be compulsory for the Chair to have an email address in future. I have also assisted with the Membership Officer role on many occasions and I now find myself having taken on the job of Contact Creator Coordinator for the CLP. These are the logistical reasons for my resignation.
I will continue to be a member of the Party and do all in my power to help get a Labour Government led by Jeremy Corbyn into No. 10.
The fact that Cllr Farnell is not on administrative suspension while these matters are investigated when other Labour figures have been immediately and even hastily suspended – especially in a case of such serious allegations – will reinforce the perception of many members that Labour HQ’s disciplinary procedures are factionally applied.
The Labour Party needs to act promptly to ensure that it not only acts correctly but is seen to do so – and a thorough restructuring of the party’s bureaucracy, still dominated by the so-called moderates, looks a matter of more pressing importance than ever.
Rochdale Council declined to comment, saying that it was a matter for the Labour Party. Labour has been contacted for comment but had not responded by the time of publication.
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