Somerset's disability day centres 'under threat after vote'

Protest outside county hall in Somerset
Image caption About 200 people turned up to protest against the transfer of services

Day care centres for disabled adults have been left under threat after a council voted to move services to an external provider, opponents claim.

The adult learning disability service will be transferred to a social enterprise along with a smaller budget.

Somerset County Council aims to save £10m from adult services, mental health and children's services budgets.

Ahead of the vote earlier, up to 200 people protested at county hall, urging members to vote against the proposals.

Up to 900 people use the adult disabilities service and its eight day centres around the county.

'People face isolation'

John Farley, who uses the Fiveways Centre in Yeovil, said: "We've got service users from Wincanton, Chard, Crewkerne, Martock.

"You've got people coming on the buses, why would they not listen to them? What are they going to do if Fiveways goes?

"It's going to be difficult to find another club... people are going to get isolated."

But, cabinet member William Wallace insisted the decision would "improve the service".

From April, the service will now be transferred to Dimensions which already runs a similar service in Bath and Swindon.

'Can't wait'

Some 1,200 learning disabilities staff will be moved over to the organisation from 1 April.

Cabinet member, William Wallace said: "We can't stand still, we can't wait, it is to improve the service.

"If we were to stand still, apart from the financial cost to all involved it would, most importantly, be deferring from our more vulnerable people who we want to look after."

The Conservative-led county council had been forced to reconsider the proposals after being asked to defer the decision until after local elections in May.

But earlier, cabinet members voted unanimously for the plans, saying the current set up was unsustainable.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites