Thornhill Road Children's Home, Cardiff, closure concerns

Questions have been asked about why a £1.6m purpose-built children's home was declared unfit for its intended use, causing it to close seven months after opening.

Thornhill Road Children's Home in Cardiff opened in May 2011 to care for up to eight children, aged 11 to 18.

It shut after a damning Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales report.

Cardiff council has examined reopening it but the matter has now been referred to the Wales Audit Office.

The Unison union called the project a "staggering waste" of public money and a "complete disaster".

A council spokesperson said: "The new administration is determined to get to the bottom of the situation.

"It appears that the design and layout of the home is not conducive to delivering the type of residential experience Cardiff wishes to offer its looked after children.

"Questions therefore need to be answered about how a brand new purpose-built facility is not suitable for the purpose for which it was built and whether the council will be able to recover any of its costs."

While the building has not housed any young people since 2011, it has remained open on a daily basis to provide services to parents and carers, as well as training. The staff are still working within children's services.

The council added the closure of the home was "completely unconnected" to the authority's budget cuts.

Unison's Cardiff branch secretary Linda Webb-Thornton said: "How a purpose-made building can be designed, built and found to be unsuitable for its intended use is completely beyond me.

"Our members are understandably extremely shocked and concerned about their jobs, especially given that even more cuts to children's services in Cardiff are in the offing.

"It seems unfair that those hard working members of staff are suffering and have been caught up in a situation that has come about by poor management and councillors' decisions."

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