Monday, March 31, 2014

Kept in the Dark

An opportunity to write a quick blog entry on the train from Victoria this evening. I have been over at Westminster and it's a pleasant change to see dusk at seven O'clock at last.

On the way to London earlier, I discovered, quite by accident that we have a secure home for vulnerable boys in Westgate, I was quite unaware of.

Lately I had spotted some very young characters hanging around the station during school hours and others locally had remarked on the same. However, it appears that one lad, who I saw when buying my ticket, had absconded because I came across the search party looking for him.

Just as I got on my own train, I spotted him again, so with the name of the home clearly ex-directory or Google search, I quickly called our local police inspector to pass on his whereabouts to the home and told him where to find it.

I had a quick phone chat with Cllr King and he was equally unaware of the home's presence. They are not obliged to tell anyone of course but local readers with a long memory, will recall that at one point we had twelve such homes in the immediate area and that had consequences for Westgate before this number was reduced.

We are supposed to have a policy now that either prevents or discourages the placing of vulnerable children from outside Thanet but I am concerned by the possibility of these 'Slipping under the radar' because there is no duty to declare their presence to the authorities or council.

Westgate always stands in danger of being over-subscribed in the treatment of problems that start elsewhere, principally because of its large houses from another era. A week or two ago, I saw the same lad, of about twelve, sharing a cigarette at the station, during school hours, with one of our 'Recovering' alcoholics who had clearly put recovery behind him. This is exactly the same type of risk that put the Cliftonville homes in the national spotlight and should not be happening. It's absolute madness, to mix the vulnerable with the recovering and possibly even those on the register or early release as we have seen too often in other parts of Thanet.

Where do we go from here. I honestly don't know. In the time I have been a councillor, the question, keeps reappearing and the answer remains the same, that the local community and the council has no right to know about such matters, even when density or proximity to risk factors might make this a matter of common sense or even basic child protection. It's only when things go awry that the hand-wringing and finger-pointing begins; somebody comes-up with a policy of a kind; promptly forgotten or ignored and the problem starts all over again after a decent pause.

As a Westgate councillor, I would very much like to know about facilities of every kind that might have a bearing on the health, well-being and ordered life of my community but instead, I can only play the part of a political mushroom, kept in the dark with so many questions left unanswered.

Finally, if you live in Westgate and Westbrook, please keep your eyes peeled for unusual activity during the day. One of our local locksmiths was burgled this week and despite the highest possible levels of deterrence,  I'm told that it appears that entry was gained through a forced side window, much too small for an adult. Whoever went through there, then opened the house-up to accomplices to ransack. All rather reminds me of the 'Artful Dodger' character in a Dickens novel, except that this is devastating to people's lives; I spoke to someone else recently whose home had been burgled.

Please make sure you take every precaution as we may have an organised gang working the area, looking for opportunities during the day. If you see anything suspicious, please call the police.


emma179 said...

Acorn group and Ethelbert house have homes in Westgate-on-Sea I believe, I don't know how many more. Easy enough to identify by googling "children's homes Westgate-on-Sea"

Simon Moores said...

Yes.. these I am well aware of as these are 'above the radar'

It's all those places that I don't know about that concerns me

Don Wood said...

Trouble isn Simom its a bit likE Womens Refuge's they hardly want to be in Yellow Pages because abusive husbands go round and beat the escaped wives up. Same with some of these kids

Concerned of Ramsgate said...

I'm just wondering about the photos accompanying your text here. Weren't they from a project some years ago, about young immigrant children into the area? I can't quite remember but I'm assuming that they are not the children/young people you are talking about in the article and seems rather odd to emblazon other young people's faces in a rather perjorative context, no?

Simon Moores said...

Wonder to your heart's content!