A councillor who controversially replaced a social care expert on a committee was asked by a cabinet member if he “fully understands” a key child care development.

Cllr Chris Hughes gained the chair of the social care and health scrutiny committee after a tied vote was settled by a Labour Party bingo machine this month.

He won the “virtual coin toss” and the £8,700 role, ousting party colleague Cllr Penny Andow who had been in the job for three years.

In his first meeting in the role since revelations about how he gained the post and his comments about needing the cash from the position were made public, he received a broadside from Cllr Cheryl Carlisle.

The cabinet member for children and family social care asked Cllr Hughes if he understood the function of the planned Meadow Lodge assessment centre in Colwyn Bay, plans for which are due to go before the authority soon.

It came after Cllr Hughes told a Colwyn Bay town council meeting on October 6  there had been no mention of “potential for an increase in crime in the vicinity of the site, or the perception of an increase in crime” in planning documents.

During a discussion about the Strategic Multi Agency Panel (SMAP) annual report on Wednesday this week, which covers services for cared-for children, members touched on the plans.

In a partnership with Betsi Cadwaladr UHB and Denbighshire, the ground-breaking scheme will house experts assessing the appropriate care options for the children , aged between six and 17 years old.

The aim, said Cllr Carlisle, was to get the children back with their parents “as soon as possible” and prevent sending them out of county for specialist care, as happens now at great expense.

In the Zoom meeting, Cllr Carlisle first asked Cllr Hughes if he “fully understood” what Meadow Lodge was designed to do and if he was “up to speed with it”.

He said: “When I held the adult social services (cabinet) post I went with officers to visit the type of clients that will be at this facility.

“I have no question about the type of facility but, as you know, I have expressed concern with the location.

“I am just not quite sure the borders of Eirias Park are the right location and you are well aware of the concerns I have raised and tried to raise with officers about that.”

As Cllr Hughes quickly tried to bring in other members, Cllr Carlisle came back with a passionate defence of the scheme.

She said: “The age range of these children will be between six and 17 years and the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) will be registering us for that.

“There will be a maximum of six children in this facility and it will be very extensively staffed with therapeutic staff, care staff and it will be multi-disciplinary.

“I just wanted to be clear that you fully understand what this facility is for.

“It’s not a bail hostel or anything like that.

“I just wanted to be very, very clear given that statements (were made) to Colwyn Bay town council about crime and disorder.

“This is our children with complex needs. They have been taken into care to help them with therapy.

“They may go from here to hospital, they may be self-harming, they may be suffering abuse – they may be smaller children.

“I just wanted to be really, really clear on that and the overwhelming support we have had from the community, and from councillors, has been really heartening.”

Cllr Hughes responded: “Just to reiterate I actually have a son with complex learning needs who we deal with on a daily basis.

“I am very much aware of the issues, I live with them every day of my life.”

After the meeting Cllr Carlisle said: “Our complex needs children have to go out of county at the moment.

“Meadow Lodge is a pioneering idea with ourselves, Betsi Cadwaladr and Denbighshire council, using psychiatrists and psychotherapists to assess what children need and give them appropriate treatment.

“It’s just the right thing to do for these children.”