Offenders halfway house Wing Grange set to close

Wing Grange, Wing.'Photo: MSMP020713-007ow
Wing Grange, Wing.'Photo: MSMP020713-007ow
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A halfway house in a Rutland village, which looks after men who have left prison and are at risk of re-offending, is set to close.

Wing Grange in Preston Road, Wing, has been helping to rehabilitate offenders for more than 43 years.

The home is run by the charity Langley House Trust, but because of funding problems it will close by September 1.

At present seven ex-offenders live at Wing Grange and there are 12 members of staff. It has not been confirmed where the offenders will go once the home closes.

A spokesman for the trust, which has 60 rehabilitation homes across the country, said: “Against a backdrop of scarce resources and increasing cuts, trust board of trustees made the very difficult decision to close Wing Grange.

“For the last 18 months the staff team at Wing have demonstrated excellence and commitment to delivering a high-quality service for those in their care.

“In spite of the high quality care, specialist provision and the demonstrable continuing need for such services in our communities, the funding required to continue the service has not been forthcoming.

“The trust is currently seeking the best possible alternative placements for current residents and supporting the staff team in securing employment.”

The home offers education and training programmes to help offenders develop skills with a view to finding jobs and getting back into society.

The home is an accredited National Proficiency Test Council centre, which allows training and assessments to take place on a wide range of skills including horticulture, hotel and catering, independent living skills, construction and employment.

Referrals to the home are made through social services, mental health authorities or the probation service.

In 1998, villagers protested against the Home Office’s request for the home to take convicted paedophile Robert Oliver following his release from prison after 10 years.

Langley House Trust rejected the request and Oliver was re-housed elsewhere.

Following this, a liaison group was set up to let villagers know what type of offenders were moving to the home and what work they would be doing there.

Rutland County Council chairman Edward Baines (Con) who is councillor for the Martinsthorpe ward, which covers Wing, was chairman of the liaison group.

He said: “It’s a great pity it is closing because since the Robert Oliver case 15 years ago, the home and its members have integrated with the community very well.

“Unfortunately it’s been desperately short of funds and this has caused problems.

“The staff have also done a marvellous job and we need to continue to support it while it’s open.”

Wing Parish Council chairman Richard Culloch, of Morcott Road, Wing, said: “Since the trouble we had with the protest, where people were literally protesting outside Wing Grange, the home seems to have been accepted by the village.

“I don’t think it will be missed by residents but the members have behaved themselves responsibly and people have grown to the characters that have been there.”

Rutland MP Alan Duncan said: “I have worked with Wing Grange and the Langley House Trust on many occasions over the last 20 years.

“It’s had its difficult moments but it’s largely been embraced by the local community.

“It’s done a lot of good for the residents in its time and I’m sorry to learn it’s going to shut.”