Essex

Essex children's homes to close

Twenty-nine children will be moved out of care homes in Essex after plans to close them were approved.

The homes could now be shut by the end of September after Conservative-run Essex County Council failed to find a buyer to run them on its behalf.

The council said putting children in privately-run homes would cater for their individual needs for rather than putting them were beds were free.

Labour councillor Julie Young said the changes were "worrying news".

The council announced in December it wanted to sell the homes to a private company or charity. However, it failed to find a suitable buyer.

'Child-led decision'

The authority said it has told all the children and young people currently in the homes in Chelmsford, Tendring, Uttlesford, Harlow, Epping and Basildon, about the closures. They will be moved to alternative accommodation based on individual needs.

The 131 members of staff who work in the homes are now facing possible redundancy if they cannot be redeployed.

The authority is aiming to save £300m this year through savings.

However, Sarah Candy, cabinet member for children's services, said that finances were not the driving factor for the move.

Ms Candy said: "Yes, it will make savings, which is an added advantage, but this is a child-led decision.

"The council wants to be able to purchase the right placement for each child."

Labour councillor Julie Young said: "The closure of six children's care homes is worrying news for some of the most vulnerable young people in our county."

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