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Local Authority doing better for children on halting site – Ombudsman for Children’s Office publishes No End in Site update

The No End in Site report, published in 2021, detailed an investigation by the Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO) into complaints made by 11 families who were living on a local authority housing site.

In an update to the No End in Site report, the OCO has found that living conditions have improved for many children after the local authority responsible prioritised implementation of OCO recommendations.

In the original No End in Site report, the OCO found that there was a persistent problem with rodent infestation; inadequate sanitation; extreme overcrowding; safety concerns about access to the site; illegal dumping nearby; inconsistent and inadequate waste disposal; inadequate heating systems; unsafe electrical works; a high rate of childhood illness caused by living conditions; a lack of safe play areas for children and housing applications not being progressed.

The report made ten recommendations relating to the site where 66 children and their families were living, all ten of which were accepted by the Local Authority. Since publishing the report the OCO has engaged with all stakeholders, the Local Authority; the residents and their advocates; and children on the site.

Commenting on the update to the No End in Site report, the Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon, said:

“My team has re-visited the site at the centre of this investigation and there is no doubt that significant work has taken place since No End in Site was published. The Local Authority involved has prioritised both short and long term commitments they made in relation our recommendations, and this has resulted in better living conditions for many children.

“For example, there is now a caretaker working five days a week at the site to log and report maintenance issues, as well as a dedicated phone line for residents to log complaints. Four welfare units containing washing and toileting facilities, and two mobile homes have been replaced. Four mobile homes are expected by the end of this year and additional welfare units in the New Year.

“There is also better administration of housing needs by the Local Authority and disputes regarding credited time on the housing list are looked at favourably by the Local Authority where records and files are unclear, or have not been kept. The Local Authority has also reduced the steepness of the dangerous overhanging cliff face, and works on the footpath to provide a safe passageway for children walking to school are near completion.

“It is important to highlight that the Local Authority has engaged the services of stakeholder engagement specialists to assist the authority and the residents to reach an acceptable solution to the problem of overcrowding at the site.

“However, there is no getting away from the fact that there is still a long road ahead to rehousing families and making the site fit for purpose. There are still families who are not happy with what has been done so far, and who feel things are not happening fast enough. Continuous open communication is needed to drive further change.

“While we are satisfied with the work that has taken place over the past 12 months, our work here is not complete. We will continue to engage with the Local Authority, and with families on the site, to drive further change that will benefit the children who live there.

“In this matter the OCO has found that while communication between the Local Authority, residents and Traveller advocacy groups has improved, relationships remain strained, and more is needed to keep building trust. The Local Authority and other key agencies also need to look at how children can be actively involved and have a say in the ongoing work to improve conditions at the site.”


Read the report in full here