Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Cultural Break

Aside from the prevailing  fuss over Margate's 'Portas Pilot' plans for a fly-on-the wall documentary, which earned an hour's BBC Radio Kent phone-in this morning, the BBC also spotted that London councils are still sending children in care to Thanet, in large numbers, in breach of their own rules and their agreement with both us and KCC.

Please see BBC NewsNight Special report on Wednesday. I missed it but you can watch it again as it looks directly at our problems here in Margate. Do try and watch it and see what we are up against. "Vulnerable children placed in Cliftonville alongside Drug dealers, paedophiles and criminal gangs."

Kent Online reports, that a list of councils that have placed troubled and looked-after children in Kent shows they include Aberdeen, Guernsey, Neath Port Talbot and Blaenau Gwent in Wales. Others are Newcastle, Middlesborough, Lancashire and Northamptonshire - all several hundred miles from Kent. By far the largest number of placements of children at risk is still coming from London councils. The London borough of Greenwich tops the table with 134 placements - twice as many as neighbouring councils like Newham and Lewisham. Laura Sandys said, “This issue has gone on for too long and desperately needs to be resolved. In Thanet we now have a situation where 243 vulnerable children from outside the area have been placed hundreds of miles from their original homes.”

We all recognise this as a significant problem and more recently, the police and schools disclosed their own concerns that vulnerable young people were being placed in environments, here in Thanet (principally Margate and Cliftonville) where they were exposed to unacceptable risks, both sexual and criminal, which are quite unacceptable. A link with the character of 'Fagin;" in the Charles Dicken's novel, Oliver Twist was made to illustrate the dangers of criminalisation through gangs.

We can argue the benefits of 'Portas Pilots' until our eyes glaze over but the looked-after children issue is part of a much wider symptomatic problem which, as I've written before, creates havoc with the education of local children in specific areas and prevents Thanet and in particular Margate and Cliftonville, regenerating in any meaningful way, as a net recipient of massive social services,aid, intervention and spending.

Last night, on the late train back from London, I commented to the lady guard that we were having a 'Yob-free' journey and she remarked that I should see the weekends. When she saw I was going to Westgate, she commented: "Aren't there a lot of children's homes there?" Apparently my little seaside town is well-known known for its problem kids on the trains, which somewhat reinforces what I saw taking the 16:20 out to Victoria yesterday afternoon. I sent my photographs to the local police inspector to try and identify the youths in question, who I'm now seeing rather too much of around the town.

Why aren't the Police told?

In a system dependent on private provision, reportedly, a single cared-for child with more difficult personal problems is worth as much as £200,000 in income to a care faculty, a staggering statistic if it's even close to being correct. Apparently, the police don't even know where many of these care homes are, I don't know and I'm not entitled to know, here in Westgate and OFSTED are accused of dramatic failings and simply 'ticking boxes', so overwhelming is what is described as a 'badly broken' system of care.

Anyway, in London last night, I found myself having a drink with Michael 'Kell' Ryan and did my very best to try and promote the benefits of Manston as a potential hub for Ryan Air. At least he knows where it is now and what the supporting infrastructure is. I didn't mention our Labour administration's opposition to night flights however.

On the beach at St Mildred's bay this morning a little cultural interlude and the charming sound of chamber music being played on the promenade. I do hope it becomes a regular feature.


Anonymous said...

Surely if the London Boroughs persist, it is up to TDC to slam the door shut and impose a zero tolerance policy?
Assuming, of course, that any income deriving from importing potential ASBO offenders is less than the cost of having them here and the social unrest resulting?

simon moores said...

I think the emphasis being made now is on legality, i.e. preventing this cynical 'dumping' - it's hard to call it anything else - by London Boroughs which at present, we have no right to prevent. It's damaging our community regeneration, our education system and distracting our police and social services as well.

Tim Clark said...

Newsnight had a piece on this last night, with Laura Sandys, Andy Somers and Paul Luxmoore all contributing. Amongst a number of revelations I was horrified to discover that the police do not know, nor are they allowed to know which houses are being used for children in care.
This issue needs to be raised to the very top of the agenda. If you didn't see the programme it would be worth watching it on iPlayer

simon moores said...

Many thanks for that tip. I missed it but have now added it to this weblog as an important commentary on a significant local problem

Anonymous said...

If we have no right to prevent this practise, then surely the London Boro's would equally have no right to prevent us sending them our yob elements either? We might even clear a backlog with a 'send us one, get two of ours free' system.

Anonymous said...

None of the Candidates have mentioned this huge problem.
None of them know what's going on.
None of them know what the locals think.
None of them live in Westgate.
Enough said!

Anonymous said...

Anon 12.15......that's why I'm not voting for any of them ! I learned today that one of the 'younger' candidates hasn't even got a car or landline ! Great councillor he will be then !!!!

James Maskell said...

Blogged about it in December and February when Labour proposed wasting TDC resources on a new committee looking into children in care. Iris Johnston backed down when she realised she was already on such a panel as the relevant Cabinet Member.

Im acutely aware of the issue, having come to Thanet as one of those "dumped" London borough children.