Moving community groups out of a town centre site to make way for a children’s services ‘hub’ could help achieve an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating, councillors claim.

And with youth offending service staff currently working in a remote location with potentially dangerous young people, one argued the existing arrangement was “not fit for purpose”.

Enfield Council will take over part of the first floor of the Dugdale Centre, at Thomas Hardy House, Enfield Town, and turn it into offices for its children’s services staff from September.

The move will see several teams relocate to the building from their current bases in Charles Babbage House, Claverings Industrial Estate and Triangle House.

It has sparked opposition from community groups who currently use the space and will have to find alternative venues.

More than 1,700 people have so far signed a petition against the plans.

But at a meeting of Enfield’s cabinet on Wednesday (March 11), councillors said the move could help children’s services achieve an ‘outstanding’ rating from Ofsted.

Cabinet member for children’s services Cllr Rick Jewell (Labour, Turkey Street) explained: “Our Ofsted inspection told us the most effective way of delivering a high-quality service was a hub model. That’s what this does.”

Cllr Jewell said the current youth offending service base, at Claverings Industrial Estate, was “not a nice place” for staff, young people, crime victims, families or volunteers.

He said: “It is stuck at the back of an industrial estate in one of the most-affected areas by serious youth violence. Some young people risk serious harm from going there.

“And staff – the most consistent feedback is the fear. There is nothing worse than leaving there at nine o’clock on a winter’s night, when you’ve sat with a young offender and told them you’re going to have to send them back to court, and you have to walk across the car park in the dark.

“It’s not fit for purpose. Our recruitment and retention in that area is terrible.

“Bringing all these things together would be really good and enable us to run a more cohesive service and improve our productivity and outcomes for young people.”

Executive director of people Tony Theodoulou added: “Services to looked-after children in Enfield have been judged by Ofsted to be good, and in some places outstanding, for something like the last 13 years.

“One of the primary determinants of that is excellent staff retention. Services to looked-after children in the borough have all been located at Triangle House.

“Ofsted said if we could extend that even further to children in need, children who are subject to a child protection plan, that gives us the opportunity to further improve our recruitment and retention of key staff.”

Council leader Cllr Nesil Caliskan (Labour, Jubilee) pointed out Enfield’s children’s services – currently rated ‘good’ – were aiming to achieve an ‘outstanding’ rating from Ofsted.

She added that basing around 300 members of staff in a major town centre, where businesses have raised regular concerns over footfall, would be an additional benefit.

The council says moving children’s services teams into one space means it will save £350,000 on renting office space.

The theatre, café and shop at the Dugdale Centre will remain open. The council says it has offered to help the groups currently using the space to find different sites that meet their needs.