Medway Labour & Co-operative Group have demanded further scrutiny of its closure of the Old Vicarage Children’s Home in Upnor.
The Ofsted rated ‘outstanding’ children’s home is threatened with closure following a recent Cabinet decision. The whole of the agenda for the Cabinet meeting took only 12 minutes, calling into question the effectiveness of the Cabinet’s decision making process.
The Labour and Co-operative Group’s call-in means the decision will receive a much more rigorous level of scrutiny appropriate to the importance of the decision to the future of Medway’s children.
Cllr Clive Johnson, Medway Labour & Co-operative Spokesperson for Children and Young People, said ‘It is shocking that Cabinet took this decision so swiftly. The Old Vicarage is an ‘Outstanding’ provision within Medway’s overall ‘Inadequate’ rating.
‘We have real concerns about the current residents and what the future holds for them, and for young people in the future who may need this provision. We are also worried about the potential costs of out-of-area placements, and about the current workforce who have worked hard to provide an ‘Outstanding’ service.’
Cllr Pat Cooper, Labour & Co-operative Member of Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee said, ‘We understand that recent investment in the Old Vicarage has considerably enhanced facilities, which leaves us confused as to why they’ve made this decision now.
‘The outstanding Ofsted report shows that, despite the Cabinet’s statement to the contrary, the provision is fit for purpose. The news that the council’s financial situation necessitates greater scrutiny over the placement of children, combined with the ‘Inadequate’ Ofsted Medway Council received, leaves us concerned that children who need this service are not being properly identified and referred.
‘The Old Vicarage is only operating at half its capacity, but we know there are children in need of the help this provision can offer; council has serious questions to answer about why there are so few residents at the moment.’