THE FUTURE of a former children’s home remains up in the air after Newport City Council suggested it could be used for housing young asylum seekers.
Cambridge House has become a magnet for rough sleepers since it closed down in 2021, with reports of fires and break-ins causing “angst and concern” for neighbours, Stow Hill ward councillor Miqdad Al-Nuaimi said.
The Labour councillor has called for better communication from the council and for the local community to be kept in the loop regarding the building’s future – but a public meeting planned for the spring was reportedly cancelled at the eleventh hour.
The council had originally intended to sell the large property to a registered social landlord, but last year changed direction and said the former children’s home could instead help fulfil Newport’s obligations to help unaccompanied asylum-seeking children who are rehomed in the city.
Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), a spokesperson for the council said Cambridge House, if it is reused for that purpose, would accommodate “children who were desperate to settle and be safe”, and that a bid for capital funding for the building had been lodged with the Welsh Government.
They added that the council’s position had “changed significantly” since the proposal to sell the property off, because of Welsh Government wishes “to eliminate profit from children’s social care”, as well as the council’s duty to support unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.
These changes mean Newport has to develop its own placement services, including the setting-up of a new home for disabled children.
There have been no developments on these plans since April, but the council has pledged to keep the community “fully informed” and hold a consultation on the future of Cambridge House “as appropriate”.
Cllr Al-Nuaimi told the LDRS his constituents worried the building would remain empty, “causing it to further deteriorate with the grounds and building attracting rough sleepers; or that it may become a hostel of some sort”.
A public meeting for the community had been scheduled for May but was later cancelled “at the last minute”, he said, adding: “I look forward to a new date as I firmly believe that more communications are always welcome.”