Committee Accepts Mundesley Recommendations

Mundesley House

Mundesley House

Members of the Council’s Children and Young People Committee have accepted a recommendation to retain Mundesley boarding house for off-island pupils.

But they’re concerned about its ability to cope with increased number of children in the coming years.

The report, presented by Iain Ross, a former mainland Head Teacher from consultants Indigo, is the result of a wide-ranging consultation exercise across the islands earlier this year involving up to 200 responses.

Iain says concerns over the safety of boating children each day to St Mary’s, and the likelihood they’ll miss school in bad weather, means the only option is to retain Mundesley.

His recommendations include changes to catering arrangements, determining whether staff need extra training and work to update the property.

A recent positive Ofsted inspection wanted the maximum number of children per room reduced from four to three, but Iain said this could present problems in the future.

It means Mundesley would only have 24 places, even though it’s expected that 29 children will need the facility by 2018. The consultant recommended converting the two self-contained flats into extra accommodation.

Cllr Gaz O’Neill was worried that accepting the recommendations would be “creating a rod for our own backs.” The Council has a legal obligation to accommodate all off-island children who need the service.

Cllr Fran Grottick also questioned whether money was available for refurbishing the building as the Authority was cutting its expenditure.

Head of Children’s Services Joel Williams said the Mundesley Steering Group would need to bring any plans back to the committee for approval.

Cllr Steve Sims said there were a small number of St Mary’s residents who “think that there’s something fundamentally wrong with Mundesley” and he suggested that they had “about as much right to comment as people who live in Derbyshire.”

Iain said off-islanders also felt there was “a St Mary’s agenda against Mundesley.” But he says that wasn’t borne out by the meetings on St Mary’s itself or the internet questionnaire.

70% of St Mary’s residents supported the facility and recognised the positive contribution it makes to the island, he said.