Fears for future users of farm

From left, Michelle Caine, Steven Utterly, David Vere, Coun Muriel Weisz and Ian Shepherd
From left, Michelle Caine, Steven Utterly, David Vere, Coun Muriel Weisz and Ian Shepherd

Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC) sought to allay the fears of parents and carers of disabled people over plans to turn Brooke Farm in Linby into a training and employment hub.

Proposals for an extra annual £62,500 for more staff on top of the £608,000 cost of running the service were rubberstamped at a meeting of the Adult Social Care and Health Committee this week.

Geoff Garrod of Mansfield, whose 37-year-old son James has attended Brooke Farm for 18 years, has concerns about the 64 existing ‘service users’ who work over the three sites - as well as a three-year time-limit for new people who join in the future.

An NCC spokesperson said: “No-one will be ‘pushed out’. Existing service users will have a choice and would only move out of the service if it is their wish to and they are able to seek paid employment.”

The council anticipates that new people who join or are ‘referred to the Hub with an aspiration to secure paid employment’ will ‘achieve this within three years’.

Fears that the service would turned into ‘another Job Centre scheme’ were answered. The spokesman said: “People referred from JCP would be those within these disability groups who meet the criteria for service, so JCP’s role is to refer people into the service, not push them out.”

Questions about service user numbers met this response: “People will be supported according to their level of need. The service may need to look at how many people they can work with at any given time, which will determine how many people are catered for on each of the three sites. This will ensure that everyone is offered dedicated support in an environment that meets their individual needs.”

Karen Barnes of Hucknall, whose 21-year-old son Jack attends the farm, said: “I am pleased that it has all gone through and that the service users can continue. It could have been a different story - we could have lost it altogether.”

CounMuriel Weisz said: “People with learning disabilities from across Nottinghamshire will be given the opportunity to benefit from the service for many years to come.”