Somerset County Council is starting the process of closing two children’s homes, (West End Cottage at Chedzoy near Bridgwater and Appledore, near West Pennard) after concerns were raised over the way they have been run.
Somerset County Council has stated these closures are “due to poor management, sub-standard care and concerns over safeguarding”.
Concerns were first brought to the attention of Conservative run Somerset County Council in January this year, yet it seems to have taken a visit from Ofsted last week to trigger action.
“Ofsted inspectors visited Somerset again last week.
I’m alarmed, as other local people are, that it takes a visit from Ofsted for it to dawn on the County Council’s leaders that they really must act to protect vulnerable youngsters when the problems in these children’s homes were reported to the Council nine months ago.
These problems never spring up overnight. Simply closing the homes is not the solution. It’s the over-use of temporary staff, a lack of training and a complete failure of regular supervision and communication that has led to this appalling situation.
Taxpayers have been charged vast sums (£741,000 last year alone) for senior managers, yet it takes nine months to react to a letter highlighting problems, problems which they themselves should have picked up and dealt with. Failings, poor management, sub-standard care and inadequate safeguarding in our children’s homes should be identified and dealt with at the first signs of trouble. Why didn’t this happen?
Why did the County Council continue to place young people in these homes when investigations were already underway?
Vulnerable young people need stability, protection and care in order to prepare them for taking responsibility for themselves in adulthood. The County has failed in its first duty as ‘corporate parent’ to these youngsters, some of whom will take years to recover from this episode in their lives.
The Leader of the County Council, Cllr John Osman, had personal responsibility for Children’s Services before his promotion. He oversaw the catastrophic decline in Children’s Services from “Outstanding” in 2009 to “Inadequate”. He chose to cut frontline staff whilst paying super-high salaries to his Executives.
I have written to Cllr Osman asking for an explanation.”
1st October 2014