MBE mum leads protest over axe of centre for disabled in Hucknall

IN DESPAIR -- disabled user of the Spring Street centre, Philip Storey
IN DESPAIR -- disabled user of the Spring Street centre, Philip Storey

A LIFELINE centre in Hucknall for adults with severe learning disabilities is to be shut down — as part of a controversial cost-cutting drive in day care.

The closure has enraged parents, carers and other relatives, who include highly-respected care-worker Judith Storey.

Judith Storey (far left)

Judith Storey (far left)

Says Judith, who has been awarded the MBE for her work: “Things are desperate. They are cutting everything until there is nothing left.”

Spring Street Day Centre, which is housed within the former Spring Street Primary School building, was opened only two years ago.

It caters for up to 30 users and provides them with a “wonderful”, crucial service, backed up by qualified support-workers.

However Notts County Council has taken the decision to axe the venue — along with several others across Ashfield.

Instead it plans to bring all the services within 13 revamped, multi-purpose centres across the county.

The nearest one for Hucknall users will be Willow Wood at Sheepwash Lane, Sutton-in-Ashfield.

The decision has been greeted with dismay by Judith, who is the founder of the award-winning Hope Lea Project in Hucknall for adults with learning difficulties.

Her son, 44-year-old Philip, is a user of the Spring Street centre. He suffers from Prader-Willi Syndrome — a congenital disease that involves an intense craving for food. It results in obesity, decreased muscle tone and decreased mental capacity.

Judith, whose MBE was awarded for her services to adults with disabilities, added: “We had a better service 20 years ago.

“Carers who have fought changes to these services before are giving up. They are fed-up of going out with placards. They are almost resigned to this happening.

“Spring Street provides a wonderful service. It takes users on days out and gets them into the community.

“This is just going to cause major upheaval. How can users at a centre that is catered to their specific needs go to a venue where there will be users with all sorts of conditions? It won’t work.”

However the county council refutes criticism of the decision and says the closures will ultimately provide a better and more modern service. Users would be offered places at the new centres with transport provided.

The changes are all part of a scheme by the Conservative-led county council to shave its budgets by £187 million over four years amid the economic slump.

Coun Kevin Rostance (Con), of Hucknall, who is the council’s lead member for adult social care and health, said: “If we don’t make these savings from some areas, we are faced with making them in other areas. We’ve only got so much money to spend.

“Although services will be provided in fewer buildings, we believe both the services and the buildings will be better.

“We’re entering a new era in social care where increasing demand and limited resources will mean all councils have to do what they can to support more people to live independently, increasingly using personal budgets to give them the opportunity to control their own care.”

A consultation has been completed on the overhaul of day centres, and a final decision was due to be taken yesterday (Thursday).