Closed Worthing children’s home to be remodelled

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West Sussex County Council has started looking for a contractor to carry out remodelling work at one of its closed children’s homes.

Cissbury Lodge, a home in Worthing for children with severe learning disabilities, was closed by the council in 2018, after Ofsted found ‘serious and widespread failures’ at another home, Seaside Home for Children, in Shoreham. 

The council’s subsequent inspections of its homes also saw May House, in Worthing, closed along with the Beechfield Secure Unit, in Copthorne.

The problems at the homes foreshadowed wider issues at County Hall, with children’s services rated inadequate by Ofsted in May 2019. 

The council plans to re-open Cissbury Lodge after remodelling and refurbishment, with changes to the way it is run and the services it offers. 

They will include enhanced short breaks for four children at a time, residential services for six children, and an outreach service offering support to children and families in the home or community. 

AnnMarie Dodds, acting executive director for children, young people and learning, has agreed to start the procurement process to find a contractor to carry out the refurbishment work. 

Any councillors who have concerns or want the matter looked into further, have until April 3 to call-in Ms Dodds’ decision.

If no call-ins are received, the procurement process will start on April 6.

Since Cissbury Lodge closed, the council has been paying to have it maintained and has also paid to have the children it used to house placed in other homes.

Once it opens again, those costs will drop by £1.47m in the full first year.

A council report said the budget for 2020/21 was set assuming the home would reopen between December 2020 and January 2021.