Council accused of 'spending spree' with plan for children's home in Skegby

Councillors in Ashfield have made accusations of extravagant spending over plans to turn a house in Skegby into a children’s home.

By Richard Silverwood
Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 12:04 pm
Saville Road in Skegby, where the county council plans to spend £475,000 on turning a house into a children's home.
Saville Road in Skegby, where the county council plans to spend £475,000 on turning a house into a children's home.

Nottinghamshire County Council has approved extra funding of £380,000 for four new children’s homes, shooting the total spend for the project to £1.9 million.

One of the proposed homes is on Saville Road in Skegby, and Ashfield Independents, Coun Andy Meakin and Coun Helen-Ann Smith, blasted the authority for paying over the odds.

Coun Meakin said: “The children and young people’s committee is on a spending spree – more Park Lane than Old Kent Road – and that’s why the budgets are suffering.

Coun Andy Meakin, of the Ashfield Independents, who described the county council's spending on the homes as 'more Park Lane than Old Kent Road'.

"You are making the mistake of buying properties on roads with significantly higher-than-average house prices.

"You paid more than double the local price for a house you bought last year on Sudbury Drive in Huthwaite to convert into a children’s home and are doing so again.”

The council initially put aside £380,000 for each of the four homes. But then the project was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, and as the price of property and building materials rose, more funds were needed. The budget for each home is now £475,000.

However, the Independents say the average price for a house on Saville Road is between £215,000 and £300,000, while similar properties in Sutton are valued at far less.

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Coun Smith, who represents Skegby at County Hall, said: “We’re not against the council providing quality accommodation for a children’s home. It’s just that Saville Road is the wrong location at the wrong price.

"For this money, they could have bought two properties elsewhere. Saville Road has poor public transport and no shops, and the nearest schools and services are miles away.”

In response, Coun Richard Jackson, for the ruling Conservative group, said he made no apology if the council was spending above average because the children in care deserved support.

“They have had a very troubled start to life,” said Coun Jackson. “We want to give them the best possible chance.”

The council also pointed out that only certain types of house were suitable to be turned into children’s homes.

They needed not only bedrooms for youngsters but also office space and sleeping space for staff, as well as adequate off-road parking – and Saville Road fitted the bill.

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