South Scotland

Cairnryan children's care unit project failings found

Dumfries and Galloway Council
Image caption Seven recommendations will be considered at a full council meeting later this week

An independent inquiry has identified a host of failings in a council's handling of a project to develop a residential child care unit.

The findings reveal that an offer was made for the property in Cairnryan before Dumfries and Galloway councillors were told of the plans.

The public consultation process was also found to be flawed.

Seven recommendations for improvement will be considered at a full council meeting later this week.

The inquiry - carried out by Solace Enterprises - focused on the council's decision to buy Cairnryan House and convert it into a children's home.

The former bed and breakfast replaced Milton House in Stranraer which had been deemed unsuitable by care inspectors.

The social work department considered some 26 sites and buildings before opting for the village property.

The inquiry agreed that, given the criteria, it was the best option.

National guidelines

However, the process of purchasing the building was found to be deeply flawed.

Contact was made with the seller's agent and a conditional offer of £390,000 submitted in December 2010.

Councillors were not consulted on the plans until a month later, and the decision to buy was taken before a full structural survey was carried out.

The inquiry also found that the consultation process had failed to follow national guidelines.

Many residents had questioned the suitability of the village to house a residential unit and the two public meetings staged by the authority were said to have offered locals no opportunity to influence the proposals or have their concerns addressed.

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