Ilford home for vulnerable children earmarked for closure

Vulnerable teenagers could be relocated under plans to close Redbridge’s last council-run children’s home.

Cabinet members will decide the fate of the 35-year-old Bathurst Road Children’s Home, Ilford, at a meeting on Tuesday in a move that would save Redbridge Council �40,000 a year.

Council bosses blame tougher inspection requirements, financial pressures and a fall in demand for places for the proposed closure of the 10-bed residence.

In a report to councillors, Sarah Alexander, head of Redbridge’s children living away from home service, wrote: “Ofsted have expressed the view that the home in its current format is too large to properly provide a secure and nurturing environment for the young people.

“In the light of the higher expectations of standards there is a real risk of further inspections judging the building to be unsatisfactory with a reputational risk to the local authority.”

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Council officers have already begun a consultation period with unions, staff and residents over the closure, and estimate that making staff at the home redundant could cost them �50,000.

According to the report, eight of the nine current residents of Bathurst Road are due to move out in the summer.

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It said: “The young people were quite clear that their preference would be that Bathurst Road is not closed and they were not in favour of the home being moved to a new building.”

The number of children in care across the UK saw a rise after the case of Baby Peter Connelly, but a model of early intervention developed nationally and by Redbridge Children’s Trust has seen more youngsters staying at home with family members, contributing to a fall in demand for places in homes.

The Bathurst Road home is made up of two four-storey Victorian houses which costs the council more than �745,000 a year to run. Following any closure, the building could be sold or used for an alternative purpose.

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