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Gravesend: Asylum-seeking children to be housed in ex-care home

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Image caption, Edward Moore House, which closed in 2022, will provide temporary accommodation for up to 36 children

  • Author, Amy Walker
  • Role, BBC News, South East

A former care home in Gravesend is to be used to house unaccompanied asylum-seeking (UAS) children in Kent.

It comes after owners of a residential home in Sheppey pulled out of a deal with Kent County Council (KCC) last week.

The High Court ruled in July 2023 that KCC must take “every possible step” to increase its capacity to accommodate those arriving in the country.

Roger Gough, leader of the council, said new suitable accommodation was needed “at speed to meet the needs of predicted new arrivals”.

In a letter to residents, KCC outlined plans to acquire the Edward Moore House site, on Trinity Road, Gravesend, as a reception centre for children under the age of 16.

The care home closed in 2022 following an “inadequate” rating from the Care Quality Commission.

Under the council’s proposal, it will provide temporary accommodation for up to 36 children from the summer.

John Burden, leader of Gravesham Borough Council, said it had raised concerns about the move.

“We don’t think is really the appropriate place for unaccompanied minors,” he told BBC Radio Kent.

‘Local services’

“We totally understand the concerns Kent’s got to house children, we all sympathise and I’m sure we’d want to support the children.

“But to put them into Gravesham at this stage would be wrong.”

He said the borough already had similar Home Office accommodation, while new accommodation could “put stress on local services”.

The owners of Ocean Heights Residential Home, in Sheppey, pulled out of a deal with KCC after saying a letter to residents outlining the plans had been sent “without prior arrangement”.

Mr Gough said, that as a result of the High Court ruling: “The number of UAS children coming into the limited capacity of KCC significantly increased immediately.

“The council must demonstrate to the High Court it is doing everything it can to meet the requirement.”

KCC has identified seven sites in Kent which it intends to use as reception centres for UAS children, with funding provided by the government.

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