Councillor points finger at ‘ridiculous’ objections to proposed children’s homes in Hertfordshire

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
the county council has plans to open 27 residential care home beds by the end of 2023.

A HERTFORDSHIRE councillor has pointed the finger at the ‘ridiculous objections’ that are made to proposals for new children’s homes in the county – such as fears relating to gangs, drugs and knives.

As part of a drive to cut costs and to keep children in care closer to home, the county council has plans to open 27 residential care home beds by the end of the year (2023).

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Fourteen of those beds are already up and running – with 13 more planned by the end of the year.


But at a meeting of the council’s children, young people and families cabinet panel on Thursday (June 8), Conservative Cllr Peter Hebden highlighted the barriers that could be put before planning applications.

“There’s not a lot gets me angry in local politics, but this does,” said Cllr Hebden, who said he had seen ‘the most ridiculous objctions’ to children’s care homes.

Typically prospective children’s care homes are converted modern-day family style homes with room for just two, three or four residents.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

And they go through the planning process, because of the change of planning use required.

Cllr Hebden suggests there should be a way that they could be ‘fast-tracked’ – rather than going through what could be a ‘slow laborious process’.

And at the meeting he highlighted some of the issues that could be put forward by objectors.

“. . . they have these visions of feral rogue gangs of inner-city children roaming the streets with knives and selling drugs and breaking into cars and everything else,” he said.

“Whereas it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“We all know these are children who just want to go to school and make friends and lead a normal life – the advantages that the rest of us have.”

Cllr Hebden pointed to a response to a planned care home in his own Hatfield East division – suggesting it was not based on planning issues and not backed by evidence.

And he said: “I think there is a big duty amongst us and our colleagues in districts and boroughs to put these daft gossiping and rumour-mongering to bed really.”

In total the council is looking to create an additional 31 new beds in residential children’s homes – which will require four more to be identified.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It’s part of a ‘residential strategy’ that aims to reduce the placement costs for ‘looked after’ children in residential care.

At the meeting executive member for children, families and young people Cllr Fiona Thomson stressed that it was important to engage with communities.

She said it was important to engage with local communities and councils to create an understanding of what a modern day children’s home is – and what a modern day children’s home is not.

“We need to do the best for these children – some of them the most vulnerable in society,” she said.

“And it’s beholden upon all of us to help support that – and also to monitor and to ask those questions.”

Related topics: