THE fate of two cherished day care centres could be sealed within six weeks.
That was the news given to a
50-strong gathering of angry parents and carers who met to discuss the future of the under-threat Lorne Street and Avalon centres for people with disabilities.
The two sites in Oswestry could face the axe as Shropshire Council seeks to “transform” its care services.
Adrian Johnson, provider services manager for the authority, faced a scathing attack on the council’s motives for an overhaul and its methods of consultation.
John Gareth Jones, Oswestry town councillor and chairman of Lorne Street Senior Citizen’s Club which rents part of its premises to Shropshire Council for the day care centre, claimed the authority’s actions were “not democratic”.
“There has been no councillor input with only the portfolio holder having any say,” he said. “I go to these day care centres and people there say ‘nobody’s asked me what I want’. The consultation was flawed.”
Another attendee, John Bickerton, said: “This is nothing more than a cost-cutting exercise.”
But Mr Johnson insisted service users, parents and carers, centre staff and independent advocacy services had been asked for input.
He admitted a shrinking budget was a factor as the council attempts to save £80 million, but the whole process had been guided by improving services.
Penny Rice, chairman of the Oswestry Equality Group which hosted the event on Thursday at Hermon Chapel, claimed the controversial proposals would see a loss of almost half the places currently available at the two day care centres.
But Mr Johnson assured the group this would be sufficient for all the most severely disabled users while those with less serious needs would be encouraged to spend more time in the community through initiatives like Corner Patch and Maesbury Metals day services.
He said: “We’re not talking about stopping services, we’re talking about where to provide them. The confidence people have gained from these changes in Shrewsbury and the change it has made in their lives is largely positive.”
He assured the group that any service user who was not happy with their new level of care would be able to discuss alternatives.
The most likely outcome, he said, will be the closure of at least one of the two centres with the most dependent service users being brought together at one site.
The Lorne Street centre was simply not fit for this purpose. Avalon could be adapted but this would be a costly option.