Council apologises for failings and causing distress

Calderdale Council offices, Northgate House, Halifax
Calderdale Council offices, Northgate House, Halifax

A GAY couple who took a teenager into their care have finally received an apology for the distress caused by Calderdale Council and its failings.

The saga began when the 16-year-old’s relationship with his foster parents broke down and Robert Parr and his partner offered him a home.

The teenager’s legal status could not be fully clarified, financial support for his care and up-bringing was withheld and his new carers had to jump through hoops to persuade the council that what its officers were doing was wrong and probably illegal.

The case has taken two years to resolve and has prompted a major review of complaints procedures and the way the council handles equality and diversity issues.

“It is clear that on this particular occasion there appears to have been a failure to act in accordance with agreed council procedures - I would like to offer my sincere apologies,” said director of children and young people’s services Stuart Smith.

“I have no hesitation in giving you my absolute assurance that the council is fully committed to addressing all equality and diversity issues which includes a clear undertaking that homophobic attitudes or actions will not be condoned or tolerated.”

In his letter to Mr Parr, the director said he would ensure that “robust arrangements” are developed to ensure that where actions are agreed following complaints that these are fully implemented to ensure his experience is not repeated.

Mr Parr said he and his partner were pleased the situation had finally been resolved and after two years of frustration and uncertainty, the young man can get on with his life.

“All he ever wanted was a stable family life, which we were able to offer him. But the council put every obstacle in our way after his foster parents complained about our being gay,” said Mr Parr.

The council is still looking into why a core assessment of the teenagers circumstances was not completed and whether there is a wider concern, in order “to ensure the service is complying with statutory requirements.”