LETTER: County council must not go ahead with Boston day centre closure

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Your letters, emails and opinions - Boston Standard, Lincolnshire: bostonstandard.co.uk, on Twitter @standardboston

I feel the need to comment on the decision by Lincolnshire County Council to close Manning Court Adult Day Centre in Boston, together with others within the county.

This action is being taken despite the council’s assurance last year that although its policy was to withdraw by 2014 from running such facilities, none would be closed until outside bodies could be found to continue to run them. It proves that the council is not standing by that promise, which many of us foolishly believed.

During last year the county council said a process would get under way to enable the transfer of the management of these facilities to be achieved smoothly. There has been some tentative steps made to do this, but the process is way behind schedule. The consequence of these delays is that at present the hoped for transfers have not taken place, despite the efforts of various groups of people showing real interest in continuing the threatened services.

Anyone familiar with the Manning Court location will know that it meets the criteria for ‘caring in the community’, is well managed by skilled and dedicated staff, and the ten or so regular members who attend there are a sociable loving ‘family’. The numbers attending have not fallen recently, there is potential to accommodate a few more, but the present number is ideal to supply individual required needs.I have spoken to the service users and parent/carers to whom the news of this closure is causing each great distress. None of them want this to happen. These, our fellow citizens, suffering with life-time learning disabilities are materially undemanding, but they are vulnerable, disadvantaged and very sensitive. I believe the council is showing a lack of sympathy, understanding and sensitivity. Parents are telling me they fear dreadfully the effect that this news is already having on the health and behaviour of their loved ones. The council’s action appears to be based on the sole aim to save money with a total lack of consideration for the feelings, care and welfare of these needy folk. Furthermore, this action is being taken without proper consultation with service users and their parents/carers. I believe that now, before great harm is caused to the wellbeing of these individuals, the council must talk and listen to their deep concerns as I have done. There is time to reverse their decision.

I have no criticism of the work being achieved at the Field Street Centre to which the Manning Court users would be transferred, which I know is appreciated and valued by all those who attend. Recently the numbers attending there have fallen because the council have stopped some regular members attending.

Councillor Marsh states the fall in the number of people attending centres is a result of them now receiving a personal budget and choosing not to go. He is aware that here in Boston the implementation of these personal budgets is still a mystery to many of our group’s members, a consequence of the council’s inability to do the task satisfactorily. Also Coun Marsh speaks of choice being made available, at the very same time as proposing to close a number of centres which offer that choice. Does this make sense?

The assault by our government and local authorities on the provision of welfare for the weakest in our society continues to make me feel very uncomfortable. We have learned just this week, because of further budget cuts, disabled folk will be called upon to find money, which many of them do not have, to contribute to council tax. Is it not time for all councils to make an effort to let those in government know the hardship and unfairness being caused by under-funding, which is causing the local authorities to flounder in their efforts to provide sufficient care?

Tony Atkinson

Boston Carers Group for Learning Disabilities Chairman