Wetherby councillor’s campaign impacts government policy

Coun Matthew Robinson in Parlington Court. (1212041AM1)
Coun Matthew Robinson in Parlington Court. (1212041AM1)

After campaigning against the placement of a children’s home in a residential part of Wetherby, a councillor has helped inform government policy on the issue.

Harewood Coun Matthew Robinson (Con) fought against proposals to house up to three children in Parlington Court in Barwick-in-Elmet after they were put forward by Care Assist Children’s Services in March last year.

After lobbying the Minister for Children’s Services Edward Timpson on the issue, Coun Robinson’s concerns formed part of a wider investigation carried out by the Education Select Committee, who have now recommended that the government revisit the placement of children’s homes to ensure they are located in suitable areas.

Coun Robinson said: “I am delighted that the unsuitable application for Parlington Court has helped to achieve changes in the law that will ensure that other people do not have to suffer the anxiety and uncertainty of having an inappropriate children’s home plonked in their midst.

“Of course, children’s homes are essential, but they have to be in suitable areas where they do not have a negative effect on the households around them. Parlington Court is clearly the wrong place for a children’s home, and MPs have recognised this and used it as an example when looking at the matter.

“If given the go-ahead the children’s home would have had a massively detrimental impact on what is a quiet residential street, and the people who live there.

“I hope that this is the end of the matter, and the residents of Parlington Court, and the neighbouring streets, can rest easy knowing that the local area will not be affected by an unsuitable children’s home in their midst.”

The application was initially rejected by Leeds City Council on May 3, 2013, because the property would have to be classified as a residential institution as a result of the rota system used by the staff at the property.

Their decision was appealed as it was argued that the house would be run as a normal home with staff living and sleeping there for up to three days.

The council’s ruling was, however, upheld by the planning inspectorate in their decision, which was announced in March this year.

A Care Assist spokesman said: “The house would not have been an institution, it would have been a home for children of the locality who are disadvantaged through no fault of their own. What we provide is a normal domestic environment for the children in our care.”