Plans to shut Devon mental health centres scrapped

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Protest outside the Ilfracombe Link CentreImage source, Terry Elliot
Image caption,
The decision to not close centres followed an outcry from service users and supporters

Plans to close four mental health centre sites in north Devon have been scrapped.

The Link centres provide day services for about 270 people in Barnstaple, Bideford, Ilfracombe and Holsworthy.

Devon County Council had wanted to keep the services but move away from a "buildings-based service".

Councillors have decided to only shut the Holsworthy site and move its services to another building in the town.

Drop-ins 'important'

The decision about the facilities followed an outcry from service-users and a public consultation.

The consultation looked to see if the centres should close permanently and for the £480,000 yearly budget to be used to provide flexible community services instead.

Protesters had said the centres, which have been closed since the coronavirus pandemic started, provided safe spaces and drop-in facilities were valued.

Protests against the closures were held outside Bideford's centre in September and Ilfracombe's in October.

James McInnes, the council cabinet member for adult care, confirmed that the council wanted to move away from a "buildings-based service".

But he said the consultations had shown how the "drop-in aspect was very important and we have taken that on board".

He said the buildings would be reopened "as soon as Covid will allow".

He added: "The services have been delivered throughout the pandemic, over the phone mainly, and some one-on-one discussions.

"But we can't say, as we're going into Omicron, when the buildings will reopen."

The cabinet unanimously backed the recommendations.

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