Essex Teen Fights To Save Care Home

An Essex teenager, who has had 15 different foster parents since being taken into care at the age of five, is battling in the High Court to halt the closure of a children's home.

A judge was told today that 17-year-old "B'', who cannot be named for legal reasons, has written to the Prime Minister in his attempt to stop Essex County Council shutting the home where he has made good progress over the past four years.

Asking the court to quash the closure decision, Ian Wise QC described the anger and distress felt by B, who has emotional and learning difficulties and was removed from his alcoholic father and a mother unable to care for him.

The teenager said in a written statement to the court: "There is nowhere else that I want to go as moving... would be losing my whole life and my family''.

The case of B, brought through the National Youth Advocacy Service, is being regarded as a test of the legality of the council's decision to close a total of seven children's care homes.

When the decision was made in June, 29 children were in the homes.

The court was told today several children were already being moved, but others, like B, had launched applications for judicial review.

The Conservative-led council denies acting unlawfully and says its aim is to improve services to children as well as save money.

At the time the closure decisions were made, Sarah Candy, cabinet member for Essex children's services, said finances were not the driving factor for the move and it had been a "child led'' decision.

It was about: "improving the purchasing of residential care placements to best meet the individual needs of children and young people in Essex and ensure they have the best possible future outcomes''.

The closures are expected to save the council more than £1m per year.

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