Councillors are to lobby for a change in the law that allows some private children’s homes to open without planning permission and without the need to inform the local authority.
There is growing concern that properties can be converted into private children’s homes that have less than six residents – that is both staff and youngsters – without the need to get planning consent.
There is also no need to inform the council of the location of the home or consult residents in the area.
Independent homes are registered and inspected by Ofsted.
Given the lack of restrictions, some towns and cities have seen a large rise in the number of small private homes which has had an impact on communities and resources.
Leeds City Council’s children and families scrutiny board is a watchdog body which is holding an inquiry into the issue.
It has heard that in Margate there were five residential children’s homes in one street.
And following the recent sexual grooming case in Rochdale, which involved some vulnerable girls who were in care, the government has expressed concern about the number of private homes in some areas.
Ofsted recently provided Leeds council officers with a list of the 10 homes in the city.
The scrutiny board heard it was “marginally helpful” although it did not include the homes’ addresses.
A report to the board said: “The information is limited but in practice Children’s Services were aware of the homes.”
Out of the 10 private homes in Leeds and the council has used eight of them.
Coun Alan Lamb (Con, Wetherby) spoke to the panel.
He said: “We need to have a say over where these homes go.
“We need a change in the rules so that Ofsted have to inform us about them.
“And that the homes have to notify us and also get planning permission.
“We have to lobby the government over this.”
Coun Judith Chapman, who chairs the board, said: “We have to lobby otherwise it could spiral out of control.”
Nigel Richardson, the council’s children’s services director, said the points raised by Coun Lamb needed to be taken up.
He said: “Until there is a change in legislation we are dependent on goodwill and best endeavours.”