“THERE is your blood money.”

That was the cry from angry campaigners who showered civic chiefs in fake cash moments after they confirmed the closure of Kentish Road Respite Centre.

Members of the city council’s cabinet unanimously agreed to axe the facility during an emotional meeting last night – ending a three-year debate over its future.

In agreeing to close the centre, civic chiefs also finalised plans to set up a smaller respite service on Kentish Road.

But campaigners hoping to save the original facility, used by people with disabilities and illnesses to give carers a break, have promised to continue the fight.

They are now promising to take legal action to block the centre’s closure, due to take place at the end of this month.

Amanda Guest, whose daughter Victoria uses Kentish Road, has led the campaign alongside fellow carer Lisa Stead.

Amanda said: “This is by no means over.

“If they seriously think they can get away with this they are very wrong.

“Our message is simple: ‘Let a judge decide’.

Lisa, whose son Harrison attends Kentish Road, added: “We will get our centre back.

“It just makes no sense, there is no reason behind this closure.”

The decision was made following a tense hour-long debate, attended by more than a dozen supporters of the facility.

During the meeting, Conservative councillors attacked the decision and the authority’s handling of the centre’s closure.

Party leader, Jeremy Moulton, accused the Labour cabinet of “utter incompetence”.

He joined users of the centre in accusing the council of attempting to force alternative solutions on carers – saying there was a “whiff of coercion” about the authority’s handling of the closure.

The city council’s service director for adults, housing and communities, Paul Juan, hit back, saying he had seen “no evidence”

of coercion.

He promised to investigate complaints made by service users.

Conservative councillor, Spiros Vassiliou, questioned how much the authority would save from the closure.

He claimed the move would save just “a third” of the £300,000-ayear originally quoted by the council and asked how much the authority would spend on the new smaller facility.

Councillor Warwick Payne, responsible for the decision, said the smaller facility, known as 32B Kentish Road, would cost £30,000 to set up.

He added that the service would be run by a third-party, at no cost to the council.

Councillor leader Simon Letts defended the decision, citing the authority’s need to cut services in the face of Conservative austerity.

The Labour chief added that he hoped the smaller respite centre would be open “as soon as humanly possible”.

He ended by praising the centre’s supporters for running “one of the most colourful and vociferous campaigns” he had seen during his 26 years in Southampton.