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Plans revealed to permanently close Minster View children’s home

There are plans to permanently close a Nottinghamshire children’s home a year after its doors were temporarily shut.

Children with learning disabilities were moved out of Minster View in Southwell in November 2020.

Nottinghamshire County Council said an “emerging picture” of lacking best practice at the home was behind the move, alongside pandemic-related staff shortages.

At the time, the council said there were “no proposals to permanently close” the home.

Now, Nottinghamshire County Council papers reveal a plan for the home – which has been deemed “not fit for purpose” – to close for good.

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It comes after reports show that almost £1.7m was spent on keeping Minster View closed during the last 12 months by sending the children to private placements instead.

Of the five children who lived there, four were relocated to private homes and one was placed in another council-run home.

Now, the authority plans to open its own, smaller home in the county for children with “severe learning disabilities and very complex behaviours”.

Conservative councillor Tracey Taylor, chairman of the Children and Young People’s Committee, denied that the plans had been in the pipeline for some time.

She said: “When Minister View originally closed on a genuine temporary basis, that was because we had staff on sickness and a number of other issues.

“As the world opens up we probably would’ve been looking at opening the doors of Minster View – although ironically we wouldn’t necessarily be bringing those people back into the building.

“It is a significant decision being suggested for very carefully considered reasons.

“There was no past story, the circumstances are such now that it has given us the chance to look at it very thoroughly and clearly.

“I think the best thing we can do for the future care of children is not to put them in Minster View.”

It comes as the council recorded a 2.4 per cent overspend in its children and young people’s budget, equating to £2.2 million, relating to issues with placements for looked-after children in the county.

Cllr Taylor added: “I don’t for a moment say we are not overspent, we are. We are very focused on how we are spending.”

Steve Edwards, service director for youth, families and social work, added that the cost of private care is “comparable” to what the authority would have spent on keeping the children at Minster View.

He said: “That old Victorian institution near the workhouse isn’t somewhere we want children to call home.

“We absolutely recognise for a small number of children with severe learning difficulties, it is probably better that we have our own provision.

“We want to find a new home that caters for the children with the profile that went to Minster View.

“We are not doing this to save money, we are doing it in the best interests of the children.”

The majority of staff who worked at Minster View have taken up roles in other teams and it is therefore not expected that redundancies would be required.

It is not known what will happen to the building, which is a County Council asset.

Minster View has a six-bed residential unit for young people aged aged nine to 19 with severe learning disabilities and challenging behaviour, as well as another six beds for shorter stays.

Council papers stated: “Minster View as a venue for a residential children’s home is too large, has an institutionalised feel and limits the ability to provide oversight of the quality of care.

“The temporary closure of the home has allowed time for reflection on the suitability of the building for use as a modern children’s home. With a capacity of 12 bedrooms the current building is far larger than is considered optimal for a children’s home today where normally the number of children present would be no more than four and for those with more complex needs should in most cases be no more than three.

“The building also limits the effective oversight of quality of care by the registered manager of the home and their deputies.  Given the history of the building, built in the 1930s as an annex to the workhouse, the premises have an institutional feel at odds with the homely atmosphere that is required for children’s full-time residence and home.”

Councillors will be asked to vote on the plans during a Nottinghamshire County Council Children and Young People’s Committee Meeting  on Monday, December 13.

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