SOUTHAMPTON City Council failed in the way it dealt with the closure of Kentish Road Respite Centre, a report has found, which led to some users experiencing “avoidable uncertainty and distress”.

Complied by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGO), the nine-page document also notes that inspectors found “fault” in the way the authority made decisions about future respite care for those that used the service.

This included the delayed move to Weston Court, which didn’t allow users to transition to the new service before Kentish Road closed.

It comes after respite campaigner Amanda Guest – whose daughter was a users of Kentish Road – complained to the LGO about the way in which the city council dealt with both the 2017 shutting and the 2018 partial-reopening of the centre.

In the report forwarded to the Local Democracy Reporting Service by Ms Guest, it notes that the council failed to agree “suitable” nighttime respite alternatives following the closure of Kentish Road with her and her daughter.

The inspector says that Ms Guest should’ve been allowed to access 20 nights during the period that more than four-month period the respite centre was closed.

As a result, the council apologised, and agreed to carry out a full review of Ms Guest and her daughter’s care needs. They also compensated Ms Guest £5,500.

This, the LGO decided, was “an appropriate remedy for the injustice”.

However, Ms Guest disagrees.

“I don’t think the council has addressed the issues we have raised,” she said.

“The report does not go far enough.

“Respite has always been a lifeline for us and they [the council] took the brick out of the wall when they closed Kentish Road.

She added: “Its response to me is not good enough. I feel they have no empathy and don’t understand how [the loss of the centre] has really affected our lives.”

In response, Councillor Lorna Fielker, adult care boss at the council, said: “The council recognises that there were issues in the way this process was handled, and the leader of the council [Chris Hammond] apologised to the families affected.

“The council accepts the findings of the Ombudsman investigation and are acting on their recommendations, by apologising to complainants, carrying out further reviews and assessments and making payments to reflect the nights of respite care the individual complainant was entitled to under their Carers Support Plan but did not receive during the period of closure.”

She added that a special Governance Committee meeting will be scheduled to consider the reports findings.

As reported, the authority’s original decision to shut the centre was to save £300,000, which civic chiefs said could be done while still providing alternative care.

But, following a campaign led by the Ms Guest and Lisa Stead, the council reversed its decision, in the first major move of Councillor Christopher Hammond’s tenure as leader.

Nevertheless, the authority has only reopened the centre for weekend and emergency respite, which has been criticised by both campaigners and opposition councillors.