SHIRLEY OAKS: CHILD ABUSE VICTIMS AT LAMBETH COUNCIL MEETING – Demands for independent panel to decide compensation

SHIRLEY OAKS: CHILD ABUSE VICTIMS AT LAMBETH COUNCIL MEETING – Demands for independent panel to decide compensation

Around 300 people – many of them victims of child abuse in Lambeth council homes – attended Wednesday night’s meeting of Lambeth council.

The council were set to discuss a redress scheme for the victims – but there were very angry scenes and a highly volatile atmosphere as the council was attacked for not having an independent panel to decide compensation claims.

As many as 3,000 children could have been abused in Lambeth children’s homes, said a shock report to the meeting.

Green party Cllr Scott Ainslie said he was ashamed to be a Lambeth councillor.

“Listen to them. “People were screaming about Grenfell – now they are silent. “These people have suffered long enough.

“Stop and think of your own children. “If this had happened to them you would be absolutely enraged.

“Be reasonable. “Get the experts to understand the deep-rooted feelings.” (Loud applause.)

“This is a wake up call. “Listen to the people. “Give them what they want – root and branch.” (prolonged applause).

Conservative opposition leader Cllr Tim Briggs (Clapham Common) said: “Both sides have agreed there should be an independent panel. “Can you confirm that independent panel will deal with individual claims separate from Lambeth council?” he asked.

Cabinet member Cllr Donatus Anyanwu  who chaired the section of the council meeting as Shirley Oaks Survivors Association representatives addressed the council, said there would be an independent panel – but no vote was taken and at the end the situation was unclear.

But there was major anger when Cllr Sonia Winifred, the council’s cabinet member for equalities and culture spoke.

“When all this began the council admitted the wrongdoings and apologised” she began.

In a dreadful faux pas she mentioned references to Grenfell and hurricane Katrina. “No-one will deny these are atrocious disasters. “We can’t compare with these situations. “I’m saying this not to be disrespectful “People who mention other issues that’s my point….” (She carried on speaking but no-one could hear what else she said as she was drowned out by shouting and abuse.)

An angry Raymond Stevenson from Shirley Oaks Survivors Association yelled: “48 children died in Lambeth children’s homes” to applause and drumming of feet.

After the meeting Cllr Winifred told News From Crystal Palace: “The point I was making was that each of the cases were equally important and we were focussing on the survivors at Shirley Oaks and their cause and that the council had apologised and I was disappointed that the relationship seemed to have fallen or broken down.

“At the beginning it was very good and then things seem to have fallen behind or broken down and this evening the council have apologised .

“There would be an independent panel and I thought this would be a way forward. “Whilst I realise there’s deep emotions in the room I was hoping they would be able to sit down with the council and move forward to find a resolve.”

At the end of the meeting a woman who is a Shirley Oaks survivor went up to Cllr Ainslie and shook his hand. She told him: “Thank you very, very much.”

Shirley Oaks was a Lambeth council-run childrens home in Shirley, Croydon from 1965 when the London borough of Lambeth was formed to 1983 when it closed. http://www.shirleyoakssurvivorsassociation.co.uk

(Hurricane Katrina was an extremely destructive storm that hit the Gulf Coast of the United States in August 2005. It was the costliest natural disaster and one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States. Source: Wikipedia)

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