Children’s respite centre to close

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A respite centre for children in Lancaster and another in Morecambe will close.

Eight centres in Lancashire will be phased out while £7m has been set aside to build four new centres at undisclosed locations.

Alexander House in Lancaster and South Avenue in Morecambe are among those to close. Others will include The Bungalow in Preston, Maplewood House in Bamber Bridge, Long Copse in Chorley as well as centres in Ormskirk, Oswaldtwistle and Burnley.

Based on consultation with parents and staff, preferred locations are said to be in Lancaster or Morecambe, Preston or south Wyre, Chorley or West Lancashire, and Accrington or Nelson.

Lancashire County Council bosses said they carried out consultation with parents, carers and staff, who broadly supported proposals.

A total of 130 staff currently work in the eight short-break centres. County bosses said ‘redeployment’ opportunities would mitigate the risk of compulsory job losses. They revealed the plans as part of a package to change care services for children and young people, including setting up a new support network and continuing the Lancashire Break Time programme of evening, weekend and holiday activities.

County Coun Geoff Driver, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “We are keeping the promise we made two years ago to the parents of children with disabilities – that we would protect the vital services their children need.

““The staff at our existing units provide an extremely valuable service, but the buildings let them down and this was reflected in their Ofsted reports. “

Derek Hamer’s son Matthew received care at four-bed centre The Bungalow and campaigned for the new centres to be opened. He said: “It got to a point where instead of fighting the county council we decided to sit down and talk to them about the modernisation of respite services.

“The staff at our existing units provide an extremely valuable service, but the buildings let them down and this was reflected in their Ofsted reports.

“We have had various meetings over the last two years and this comes as very good news for us, and people who suffer from the stress of having a disabled child.”

- E-mail gayle.rouncivell@lancasterguardian.co.uk with your views