Beds, Herts & Bucks

Hertfordshire centres for disabled adults to close

Generic image - wheelchairs Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Campaigners against the closures said a consultation should have included clients at an earlier stage

Three respite centres for adults with disabilities are due to close despite parents and carers presenting a council with a 1,500-signature petition.

Campaigners said the closures would result in users being unable to attend regular daytime activities.

Hertfordshire County Council decided centres in Hemel Hempstead, St Albans and Bishop's Stortford would shut.

Councillor Richard Roberts said demand for the short break centres had declined.

Currently there are eight centres across Hertfordshire where adults with physical and learning disabilities can stay overnight.

The move will reduce the overall number of respite beds from 48 to 34 at the remaining five centres.

On Monday, executive member for adult care and health Mr Roberts told a cabinet meeting the closures would save up to £970,000 a year.

Respite centres to close

  • Tewin Road, Hemel Hempstead
  • Hixberry Lane, St Albans
  • Apton Road, Bishop's Stortford

It comes just weeks after campaigners presented the Conservative-run council with a petition calling for the plans to be halted.

Following the cabinet meeting, Jackie Wilks, whose 26-year-old daughter Nicole has learning disabilities, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service a consultation into the plans had been "woeful".

She said she was frustrated the council's short break strategy had not been co-produced in full consultation with clients from the start.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Hertfordshire County Council says the closures of three respite centres, including in Tewin Road, Hemel Hempstead, will save almost a million pounds per year

Campaigners added that changing locations and reducing the number of weekend slots meant clients would have to miss regular daytime activities in order to access an overnight stay.

Mr Roberts said rather than having an impact on provision, the closures would remove "spare capacity".

"We have had a declining attendance in recent years," he added.

Executive councillor for public health and prevention, Tim Hutchings, said the changes will result in "five very successful units which will run the sort of service that's required".

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