MAJOR concerns have been raised about the number of privately run children homes being opened in the Staffordshire Moorlands.
The quality of some of the homes, with evidence of the number of calls to the police to deal with missing children, was debated at the last full meeting of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council.
It is believed that there are many children homes, which do not require planning permission, being run all across the Staffordshire Moorlands.
In a written question councillor Peter Elkin asked if the council would look into the issue of children's homes as new legislation had started to come out.
Mr Elkin also asked if the matter could be an agenda item for a relevant scrutiny panel.
In reply, councillor Gill Burton, who has the responsibility for communities on the district council, said the council had been concerned that small scale children's homes were able to open without the need for planning permission Mrs Burton said: "We have been concerned about the number of such homes in our area.
"We also have been concerned about the quality of those homes as evidenced by the number of calls to the police to deal with incidents in children's homes including missing children.
"Inspection regimes and the fact that Staffordshire County Council is not being informed when children are placed into this area is also a concern."
Councillor Elkin said buildings being used for a commercial business should have planning permission.
He said: "The care homes are commercial undertakings so we need this to be examined.
"Figures show that the cost of each child is £3,860 a week, so it is a commercial business.
"Planning permission is required when someone wants to turn a house in to a commercial business, so why do children's homes not need permission?
"Vulnerable children should be housed in appropriate locations."
Councillor Burton added: "Discussions are required as a lot of councillors have had problems in their wards. It is felt these businesses should be registered.
"The proliferation of privately run children's homes in Staffordshire Moorlands has been an issue of concern for the Staffordshire Moorlands Community Safety Partnership over many years.
"The issues that Government minister Michael Gove raised on September 12, criticising councils for inappropriate out of area placement of children and the associated risks to children themselves, are precisely those that the Moorlands Together Partnership, first in Staffordshire and with Staffordshire County Council pointed out to the Government.
"The county council and the police have made efforts to improve communications and links with the homes in our area. Effectively as a district council we have no control over the issue."