Next Wednesday, Lib Dem councillor Andy Kelly in Rochdale will put forward a motion calling for Council Leader Richard Farnell to resign his role as leader of the council, at least until the findings of an inquiry into historic sex abuse at Knowl View school are published, due to his previous poor handling of the case.
The inquiry is part of the national Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse, where Mr. Farnell gave evidence stating he was unaware of the historic abuses at Knowl View school in October.
“This council has no confidence in the leader of the council and calls for him to step down and resign his position until such time that the findings of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse are made public,” reads the statement, tabled by leader of Rochdale Lib Dems Councillor Andy Kelly.
“I think it’s a little bit of an insult to have the then leader and now still in power, whilst we’re in limbo. I think it’s the honourable thing for him to do, to step aside at the very least until April,” Kelly told Quays News.
“We have something of a farcical situation where we have a leader of the council who claims that for six years he knew nothing about a major incident under his watch – and another councillor in his own party saying the exact opposite.”
Kelly went on:
“It’s about time we got some closure on the whole issue really, and that has to start with closure for – I don’t like the word victims – for the survivors of child abuse. We need to sort this out.”
Four days ago, Rochdale Labour Party secretary, Sharon MacClean, resigned to protest the “inaction” at the council regarding the case.
Farnell was leader of the Council from 1986 till 1992, leaving the role for a career in journalism, before returning in 2014.
Since returning to the role, Farnell has faced a long and bitter battle over how much he was aware of at the time.
In September, Steve Rumbelow, the chief executive of Rochdale Borough Council gave a formal apology for “unforgivable” failure to protect the children at Knowl View, though it took Farnell himself until October 2017 to do so, previously insisting he had “nothing personal” to apologise for.
Quays News contacted Mr. Farnell, though a representative declined to comment. He claims to have only been made aware of the claims in 2014.