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Newport City Council to house asylum-seeking children in former children’s home

Cambridge House Credit: Google

A FORMER children’s home could be used to house children seeking asylum, Newport City Council has confirmed.

Cambridge House, on Stow Park Avenue, was closed in May 2021 because it no longer met council standards.

Local authorities have a legal obligation to provide suitable accommodation for Unaccompanied Asylum-seeking Children (UASC).

At a performance scrutiny committee meeting on Tuesday March 14, officers said Cambridge House was “perfectly placed” for the young asylum seekers because it is near mosques, shops and a community.

Newport has adopted a ‘City of Sanctuary’ title, meaning it pledges to provide “support, dignity and welcome” to all migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.

At the meeting, head of social services, Sally Jenkins, said: “They are children who are desperate to settle and be safe.”

Natalie Poyner, head of children’s services at the council, said the building would see investment from capital funding to ensure it was “fit for purpose”.

Ms Poyner said the Cambridge House proposal was at “early stages”. The council has submitted a bid to Welsh Government for the funding.

Labour councillor Pat Drewett, who represents Allt-yr-yn, said: “It’s really important that we are able to welcome asylum seekers and we have appropriate provision. Are we confident that this scheme to adapt Cambridge House is cost effective? Or would a new build be a better alternative?”

Joanne Llewelyn said it was “difficult” to find a suitable property for the children in Newport. She said the council had looked at many options and added: “Cambridge House fits the criteria more than any other property.”

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Stow Hill councillor Miqdad Al-Nuaimi said: “The council seem to restrict it’s search to certain wards when looking for properties.

“They seem to always want to put these kind of places either in Stow Hill or Pill, which makes people cross because they feel they are being unfairly targeted.”

Conservative councillor William Routley, who represents Bishton and Langstone, said in future the property should be used to house looked-after children in Newport, when it is no longer needed for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.