CIVIC chiefs are set to plough on with controversial plans to close a city respite centre.

But embattled campaigners are refusing to back-down and are now threatening legal action against the city council.

It comes after the authority’s leader, councillor Simon Letts, held crunch talks with activists on Monday.

The Labour chief reportedly told campaigners Amanda Guest and Lisa Stead that the authority would be closing the centre in the hope of saving up to £300,000 a year.

His comments were confirmed in a report, released yesterday, which is set to be discussed by the council’s cabinet next week.

If civic chiefs approve the plans, the respite centre, used by people with learning disabilities to give their carers a break from providing care, will be closed by the end of November.

However, Mrs Stead, whose 21-year-old son Harrison uses the centre, has promised that campaigners will continue the fight.

She said: “We are going to court, it’s as simple as that.

“We don’t feel there are any real offers (of alternative care) on the table.

“This has never been about just the Kentish Road Respite Centre, this is all about the council absolving responsibility for care and giving it to the private sector.

“We are confident we can win.”

The group initially hope to obtain an injunction, preventing the council from closing the centre at the end of the month.

They then hope to follow in the footsteps of families using a similar facility in Watford, who forced Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (HVCC) into reinstating funding days before a High Court battle.

HVCC said at the time that the u-turn was made as it had been given inaccurate legal advice when making the decision to close the service.

However, the city council’s cabinet member for housing and adult care, Warwick Payne, said he sees no legal argument for campaigners.

“There is nothing I can see that is in contravention of the law,” he said.

“If I thought there was I would stop (the process).”

Councillor Payne added that, as part of the closure plan, the authority aimed to create a smaller respite centre in an annexe of the current Kentish Road site.

He said that the council would look to tender out a contract to run the new centre, which would contain three beds.

However, Mrs Stead said the proposal was not good enough.

“There are still a dozen users of Kentish Road and this will have only two beds available, because one will be kept for emergencies.

“There is also no sensory room or secure garden.”

Councillor Payne said that alongside a new respite centre in Western Court, the site would provide enough resbite provision.


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