Parents and carers fear threat to centre

Malvern Gazette: Parents and carers fear threat to centre Parents and carers fear threat to centre

PARENTS and carers are worried that a day centre for people with learning disabilities could be closed and its 37 users forced to travel outside the town.

Doubt has been cast over the continued use of the Malvern Social Education Centre in Geraldine Road, Malvern, after Worcestershire County Council launched a consultation as to where the services will be delivered in the future.

Carer Tony Barnett says the proposed alterations represents “the biggest change ever in this area for adults with a learning disability”

and he is calling for local councillors to support them in the “vitally important”

matters. He said: “They are among the most vulnerable in our community and decisions affecting their future need to be made with the greatest care and consideration.”

Mr Barnett has been caring for 75-year-old John Elton – who has been using the centre since it opened 28 years ago – since April.

He said: “I am sure it would break his heart if he could not use a service of that kind.” He added: “We are surprised and angered to discover that no county councillor, especially none representing people in the Malvern area, has, apparently, attended any of these meetings or engaged with any of those affected.

“This seems to be symptomatic of the consultation itself, which appears to be more about going through a process of selling a done deal than an open-minded and genuine attempt to discover the best outcomes for the lives of those affected.”

The parents and carers are also concerned that the decision may have been delegated to Councillor Sheila Blagg, cabinet member with responsibility for adult social care, and an officer, meaning the final decision could be made behind closed doors. Mr Barnett added: “We need to be assured that the council is not planning to side-step the proper democratic process while dealing with this highly contentious matter.” Malvern-based Wednesday Comet Group, which is run by and for people with learning disabilities to help them speak up for themselves, also has concerns about any possible relocation and has suggested another potential location near the town centre.

A county council spokesman said service users and carers were being involved in the consultation process and “while the building may change, the

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