Nottingham City Council has been criticised for not sending key staff or representatives to listen to evidence given by survivors of child sexual abuse.
Throughout the week, survivors have been giving testimony at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, which is being held at Trent Bridge Cricket Club.
The Inquiry has come to Nottingham to look at allegations of widespread, historical abuse across Nottinghamshire's care system dating back to the 1950s.
So far, the panel has heard 'harrowing' accounts of physical and sexual abuse in care homes and foster care.
Now, a joint statement from five solicitors' firms says the Council still isn't listening.
They say: "The absence of any physical presence from the City Council reinforces the strident views of many victims and those close to them, whose lives have been devastated, that the Council's pledges are entirely hollow.
"To learn, you have to listen. If you are not here to listen, there is no hope of learning [...] Will the City Council ever listen?"
- Watch the full statement being read out by solicitor John Wakefield (Bhatia Best) here:
The statement was written on behalf of Bhatia Best, Instalaw, Switalski’s, Howe & Co, & Farley’s. Together, they represent more than 50 of the 80 core participants in the inquiry.
Following today's criticism from the families' solicitors, Nottingham City Council said they wanted to reassure victims the Inquiry was of the 'utmost importance'.
A spokesperson said: "We want to reassure all victims and survivors that the Inquiry is of utmost importance to us and we are fully engaged with it, listening carefully to all the evidence and taking it extremely seriously. We have had senior officers, including legal representatives, attending the hearing throughout.
“However, after Alison Michalska had attended the hearing on day one, the City Council was told by solicitors to the Inquiry that some victims and survivors had expressed concern about Alison’s attendance. Solicitors to the Inquiry said that Alison was welcome to attend but that additional security arrangements would be put in place for her safety if she did.
“Alison is the City Council’s Corporate Director for Children and Adults and the Corporate Witness who will give evidence in the final week. She had fully expected and hoped to attend the hearing but to respect the wishes of the victims and survivors it was decided that she would not attend this week as we would not want our presence to detract from the very important work of the Inquiry.
“Alison and other City Council officers are of course following events on the live stream to hear the accounts being given by victims and survivors, in particular the two live witnesses who were in the care of the City Council.
“The Council will give further thought to the question of how the competing views it has received should be balanced when considering attendance at the two weeks of evidence to be heard in London.”
More survivors are expected to give evidence today and tomorrow before the Inquiry moves back to London for the last two weeks.