Closure of Hertfordshire centres for disabled adults suspended

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

Plans to close three respite centres for adults with disabilities have been suspended.

Last month, Conservative-run Hertfordshire County Council decided centres in Hemel Hempstead, St Albans and Bishop's Stortford would shut.

Liberal Democrat councillors have formally asked for the decision to be reviewed.

The decision will now be considered by a special meeting of the council's overview and scrutiny committee.

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

The council's cabinet said demand for the short break centres had declined and the closures would save up to £970,000 a year.

Parents and carers had presented the council with a petition calling for the plans to be halted before February's decision.

Image source, Google
Image caption,
Hertfordshire County Council had said the closure of three respite centres, including in Tewin Road in Hemel Hempstead, would save almost a million pounds per year

Respite centres under threat

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

The Liberal Democrats said the decision had been made on "a false premise" and the council's statistics failed to show there was over-provision of beds or there was a downward trend in usage, the Local Democracy Reporting Service reported.

Opposition councillors also suggested under-utilisation was down to poor communication about carers' rights to respite care and the local authority had not demonstrated it had worked with carers on either of the consultations.

The application for the call-in said any "new strategy" developed by the council should be "introduced and tested before any attempt is made to reduce respite breaks".

A county council spokesman said it had a "responsibility to make the most effective use of funds available" and to "ensure a range of options are available to everyone using the service".

"These proposed changes remove the spare capacity in our centres without reducing the amount of overnight respite care provision currently available to families across Hertfordshire," a statement said.

The council's Overview and Scrutiny Committee will look at the decision at a special meeting on Wednesday.

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