Plans for home for troubled children in Stockton village dropped (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Plans for home for troubled children in Stockton village dropped
A PLAN to convert a village house into a centre for children with emotional and behavioural difficulties has been dropped.
There was a strong reaction to the proposal in Wolviston, near Stockton, with nearly 200 people attending a meeting, largely to object to the idea.
However, the sale of the house on Wynyard Road to Scottish organisation Spark of Genius has fallen through and the planning application withdrawn.
Spark of Genius has been contracted by Stockton Borough Council to open four children’s homes for 20 children at a cost of £2m. So far one application, at Thorpe Thewles, has been passed, despite nearly one quarter of the population objecting there.
The soon to re-open King Edwin School in Norton, Stockton, will accommodate all 20 children. Stockton council spends about £3.5m a year on children with complex issues and hopes to save about £400,000 a year by bringing them home. About 100 jobs will be created.
Lee Dobbing, a father of a seven-year-old and an 11-year-old, lives next door to the house which had been identified for the looked-after children and helped organise opposition to the plan.
He said: “We are relieved. With youngsters who could be teenagers up to 16, from troubled background, coming to live in such close proximity, you think: ‘how safe will my children be when they go out to play?’
“I absolutely believe the children should be properly looked after and given a chance, as I’m sure everyone in the village does. Who knows what is going to happen in any family?
“But the venue was wrong, and not just because it was in such close proximity to me. It would be a 24/7 care home, but there’s no facilities in the village. For example, there’ll be no buses next year, after the cut-backs. It would be right in the heart of the village, there’s parking issues, traffic and design problems. It was the wrong place.”
A spokesman for Stockton council confirmed the sale had fallen through; “as happens all the time in all walks of life,” but reaffirmed the council's commitment to the overall plan.
Spark of Genius provides residential care for youngsters up to 16, but also provides education programmes for 16-to-18-year-olds. It is Spark of Genius, not the council who find homes for the children. No one was available to directly comment from Spark of Genius, although The Northern Echo's queries were referred to the council.
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