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Sunday, 23 November 2014

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Carlisle residents’ fears over uncertain future of former children’s centre

A woman who says she felt unsafe in her own house which was plagued by problems from a nearby children’s home is among residents battling to ensure it never opens again.

Grange house fears photo
Expressing their concerns are Barbara Davidson and Derek Nash with councillor Robert Betton, centre

Barbara Davidson is among the residents of Wood Street in Botcherby, Carlisle, who say The Grange and its troubled young residents caused major problems including vandalism, drinking and abuse.

Locals have been unsure about its future for more than two years as the children’s home has stood empty and boarded up in the wake of damning report by inspectors.

Now Cumbria County Council says the six-bedroom property is no longer needed and will go up for sale, causing fresh fears among nearby residents.

Mrs Davidson has called upon senior county councillors to draw up a clause in any sale banning it from being turned into a children’s home once again.

She told cabinet councillors: “I live opposite and there are so many problems that have occurred there. Our property was damaged, there was so much noise we couldn’t sleep, there were children outside drinking and we were left feeling unsafe in our own home.”

She added: “Can we not get a clause in of not selling it to another provider of a residential children’s home?”

Council leader Stewart Young tried to reassure Mrs Davidson and fellow resident Derek Nash that it was likely to attract residential interest, but made it clear that the authority had a duty on behalf of taxpayers to sell for the best price and reinvest the funds into children’s services.

He said: “We would not be looking to sell it on if it is going to cause a nuisance to neighbours and that’s the most assurance I can give.”

Mr Nash also called for council efforts to be stepped up to ensure the building does not become an eyesore. He said: “We do not want it to deteriorate any further which some buildings in Carlisle have been allowed to do.”

Residents have worked with the council over the last 12 to 18 months on plans for the future of The Grange as part of a review of care services for young people.

It has emerged that it would cost the council £450,000 to convert the building into a new hub for early intervention ‘edge of care’ services.

Council leader Stewart Young said this was likely to be much more than what it would cost to set up the new services elsewhere and more than what the property could get on the open market.

Mrs Davidson, speaking after the debate, said: “Over 20 years it has been hell. I would like it to be sold so long as it for residential use only. I’m pleased it is going to be sold but I would like it to be a home for someone all the time.”

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