Home gets green light despite fears
Councillors have hit back at “abhorrent” opposition to two vulnerable young people being placed at a residential property in Wigan.
Some residents living near the house in Townfield Avenue, Ashton, fear the youngsters placed in Cygnet Health Care’s hands would give rise to anti-social behaviour and noise nuisance.
Others raised concerns about parking issues as well as the reputation of the healthcare provider, after a BBC investigation uncovered abuse at other Cygnet-run care homes.
The plans were approved by Wigan council’s planning committee this week, but requests to soundproof the house were described as “unfair” on children with special education needs or mental health issues.
Coun Janice Sharratt, who supported the application, said: “I’m appalled at some of the things that have been said.
“As corporate parents, it’s our duty to look after our looked after children, and to presume these two kids are somehow going to cause anti-social behaviour because they’re in care is totally abhorrent.”
The care unit will have two residents aged between seven and 17, and two live-in care workers, living in the property at any one time.
Graham Thorpe, representing Cygnet, said the home, named Woodlands, would provide a “home from home” for those in need of care.
The meeting heard that the number of looked-after children in the North West has reached a 20-year high, with local authorities seeing year-on-year increases.
Mr Thorpe said: “Woodlands will meet this demand and stop the council from sending children away from the local area unnecessarily.”
Planning officers said the care unit would be “no different to a normal home”, but Coun Kath Houlton argued that potential impacts on neighbours should be considered.
She added: “We’ve also got a duty to the neighbours, and I think there should be soundproofing. You’ve got two young people who don’t know each other and they might not get on.”
But Coun Stuart Gerrard said: “It’s unfair to presume that they would cause anti-social behaviour.”
Coun Gena Merrett added: “They are simply children who for no fault of their own can’t be cared for by their own families.”
Meanwhile Amanda Downey, a resident living near the house, said the cars parked by the live-in care workers would exacerbate “significant” parking issues.
Cygnet’s suitability was also questioned by Ms Downey, who said the provider had no experience of running such residential care units and shouldn’t be granted permission until the inquiry is complete.