Ladesfield, the third reception centre in Kent for unaccompanied asylum seeking children has closed down as planned.
The temporary centre in Whitstable was quickly brought back to life in the summer after the huge rise in the number of unaccompanied asylum seeking children needing to be housed.
The former care home was the only building in Kent suitable to house them at such short notice.
Peter Oakford, Cabinet Member for Specialist Children’s Services at Kent County Council said: “The use of Ladesfield was always planned as a short term solution, after a quick refurbishment we were able to house up to 40 young people who needed a place to stay after fleeing their own countries in desperate circumstances.
“We are delighted the use of Ladesfield was not only a trouble free operation which was well supported by a large segment of the local community but also that we have closed the facility within the timeframe originally stated.
“I would like to express my thanks to the staff team and local volunteers who have all contributed to making it such a successful project.
“The building will now be demolished and it is our intention to make available the site in part to support the expansion of Joy Lane primary school with the remaining surplus land being released for disposal.
“All furniture and equipment from Ladesfield will be used in the two remaining reception centres and the kitchen is being installed at the reception centre in Swattenden. We are hoping to recover refurbishment costs from the government.
“The remaining two reception centres are currently housing 81 young people. In total the county council is responsible for 1397 unaccompanied asylum seekers, with 929 of those under 18.
“The pressure this is placing on all services in Kent remains extremely high.
“As the number of young people arriving in Kent has reduced recently we are not looking to open an additional reception centre, although as the summer has shown this can change very quickly so we are keeping a very close watch on the situation.”
Kent County Council Chairman and Local County Councillor Mike Harrison added: “After all the strong local feeling and unpleasantness surrounding the opening of Ladesfield as a reception centre it is wonderful to see it reach such a positive conclusion.”
- Kent County Council has a legal duty of care (The Children’s Act 1989) for all unaccompanied asylum seeking children who arrive in Kent.
- A reception centre is a place where newly arrived young people are supported for a maximum period of 6-8 weeks each; during this time their social care, education and health needs are assessed and care plans put in place.
- They also receive orientation and independence skills, training and support. After this time the young people are moved to more permanent supported accommodation units which are situated across Kent.
- Unless a young person is clearly over the age of 18, KCC Children’s Services have a duty to provide accommodation for and assume (corporate) parental responsibility for the child.
- In cases where children do not have documentation to prove their age, rigorous assessments are then undertaken to ascertain their correct age and if they are found to be 18 or over their asylum claim is processed under adult procedures.
Numbers of unaccompanied asylum seeking children under 18 years in Kent:
May 2013 – 98
March 2014 – 220
March 2015 – 368
31 July 2015 – 629
4 September 2015 – 730
2 October 2015 – 784
2 November 2015 – 958
- A planning application (Reg 3) is currently being determined by KCC Planning Application Group and is expected to go to the February Planning Committee (due to several local resident objections).
- This application covers the new school buildings (on the existing school site), reconfiguration and additional car parking (on school site) and a new exit road through Ladesfield out on to Vulcan Close (demolition of Ladesfield building and creation of through road on Ladesfield site)
- Subject to planning approval it is expected works will commence April 2016 and continue through until summer 2017 when all works are anticipated to be completed and the school will have all infrastructure and accommodation to operate at three forms of entry.