CIVIC chiefs look set to axe a children’s respite centre in Hampshire despite overwhelming support for keeping it open.

Hampshire County Council plans to close Merrydale on Church Lane in Kings Worthy, which cares for young people with learning disabilities.

An eight-week consultation in September - which also considered the future of Sunbeams in Aldershot - indicated that the majority of respondents did not want the centre to close.

But following the feedback, it has been recommended that both homes will close in Spring 2018.

The move comes after councillors announced the controversial close of the Kentish Road respite centre in Southampton, which sparked protests and a campaign by users.

A findings report to the county council states 87 percent of respondents had a “strong concern” about the proposal to close Merrydale, either disagreeing or strongly disagreeing.

It also says there is, “a clear view that residential overnight respite provision was necessary.”

The county council have said neither Merrydale or Sumbeams is a purpose-built care home for children with disabilities and to undertake further adaptations would be at a considerable cost.

Should the two homes close, the county council also say they would be able to reduce costs by around £452,000 per year on the upkeep of buildings and facilities

Merrydale is a 13-bed residential respite home and as of November 1 2017, there were 19 children using the centre with 22 staff.

Campaigners fighting to keep Merrydale open recently held a demonstration in Winchester city centre to garner support for their cause.

The group of families and friends marched up the High Street and collected more than 700 signatures, ending at the Hampshire County Council offices.

Catherine Spencer, from Horton Heath, whose 15-year-old daughter Molly uses the centre, described the news as “very sad.”

She said: “We are disappointed to read the report.

“It acknowledges the opposition to the closure from those who took part in the consultation and those who took the time to write letters and sign our petition and recognises the need for overnight respite but still recommends closure of both Merrydale and Sunbeams.

“We are hoping that those making the final decision will take into consideration the views of those who use these centres and think of those families local to these centres that will need this type of respite in the future.

“It is sad that this seems to boil down to a financial decision which appears to have already been made.We will keep hoping the right decision for our children is made.”

A decision will be made by the executive lead member for children’s services today.