Peterborough's disability day centres under threat

Disabled adults in Peterborough could be left "high and dry" if plans to close day centres go ahead, a councillor has warned.

Peterborough City Council proposes shutting its three centres to modernise its care services and save money.

Labour councillor Nick Thulbourn believes the closures are happening too soon for other care to be arranged.

Adult social care director Jana Burton said any changes would happen "gradually".

Peterborough City Council currently owns three centres and pays for people to use eight others run by the independent sector and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation Trust.

Its proposals involve shutting its own centres and cutting its clients' support towards the others. It will instead give people personal budgets to spend their money on whatever care services they want.

'Very sensitive area'

Cabinet approved the plans going out to a public consultation earlier, with the move expected to save the council £400,000 a year.

Mr Thulbourn, who is a councillor for Fletton and Woodston and has a brother with Downs Syndrome, said: "My concern is it's now December, the consultation for this will start in January and the changes start on April 1st. It just seems very quick for a very sensitive area.

"In four months, can you create a market place that doesn't exist at the moment?"

He denied the personal budgets were a poor policy, but said unless the clients had enough relevant services for them to spend their money on, many could be left "high and dry" at home and end up "lonely".

Ms Burton said: "The old models of care, which were very much about taking people on a bus to a day centre, are really outmoded and don't make sense for the 21st Century.

"[The change] is something that will happen gradually. At the moment we do have eight providers already in Peterborough who may be able to offer new models of support."

The consultation start date is expected to be finalised this week and will finish on 3 March, the council said.

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