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Westminster's last children's home to close this month

PUBLISHED: 17:40 20 August 2010 | UPDATED: 17:05 07 September 2010

THE death knell has finally sounded for the last children s home left in Westminster, it was revealed this week. Shirland Road children s home in Maida Vale was established in the early 1970s and has had up to 6 children, aged between 11 and 16, resident

THE death knell has finally sounded for the last children's home left in Westminster, it was revealed this week.

Shirland Road children's home in Maida Vale was established in the early 1970s and has had up to 6 children, aged between 11 and 16, resident there at any one time since 1999.

But after more than three decades it will now close for good on August 31 after the council decided to withdraw funding of more than £700,000.

The decision was made last month when City Hall's children's services chiefs announced that they would not be renewing the home's contract.

But news of the closure has sparked anger among the ranks of Westminster Unison who say they have not been given enough time to fight for the jobs of the union members working at the homes.

Branch Secretary Stephen Higgins said he was only told about the plans for Shirland Road a week ago.

He said: "What's made me angry is the lack of consultation. We work in the same building as the council."

But Westminster Council has hit back at this criticism, saying that it was up to the charity who run the home, St Christopher's Fellowship, to liaise with Unison.

Cllr Nickie Aiken, Westminster's cabinet member for children and young people, said: "We know that the best place for a child is with a supportive and loving family and this is no different for children who come into our care, so this is why we have moved towards placing children with foster families.

"A foster home will invariably be a better option than a residential care home for children in our care.

"We will ensure that the five children who are currently at the home will receive all the help and support they may need.

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