An update on the recently reported fight to Save Spon Lane Children's Home in Sandwell, West Midlands, by SWAN West Midlands. This regional SWAN group are campaigning in partnership with Unison, Unite and GMB as well as young people and workers. A further lobby of Sandwell’s Labour Cabinet is this Wednesday 10th July from 1.30pm outside Sandwell Council House in Oldbury - a flyer is attached.
Sandwell’s scrutiny committee, which met on 24th June challenged the Council cabinet proposal to move to close the Spon Lane Children’s Home, the last remaining Council run Children’s home in the Borough.
Sandwell’s Cabinet has pursued the closure on the grounds that the building design of the Spon Lane is not conducive to the best care of young people.
The current proposal would lead to the break-up of an experienced and well trained group of residential staff and to the loss of their jobs through redundancy.
The Scrutiny Committee considered the decision to close the Home in relation to the need to retain in-house residential children’s care and referred the matter back to the next Cabinet meeting on 10th July.
The unanimous decision of the Board was that:
"This scrutiny board accept that the Spon Lane building may be inadequate for future provision of children's residential services, but any decision to close it should be in the context of continuing to provide an in-house service."
The Scrutiny Committee tacitly accepted the case of UNISON, GMB and UNITE that new accommodation should be provided by the Council to create two smaller residential care homes and to retain the current staff group.
This is the outcome of effective lobbying by the local Trade Union’s and Bearwood Against The Cuts who have put pressure on local Labour Councillors. But the key decision remains with Sandwell’s cabinet.
The case for keeping local children’s homes in Sandwell has been strengthened by recent national criticism of children being placed in private Children’s Homes often at significant distance from their families and communities.
The campaign to keep Spon Lane Children’s Home open is currently seeking 3,000 signatures from Sandwell residents to get the closure debated by the full Sandwell Council.
The role of local authorities in retaining and directly providing children’s social care services is a national issue, and follows the trend for all Council run adult social care provision to be closed and outsourced.