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Axe will fall on respite centres for Lancashire youngsters
CONTROVERSIAL plans to axe eight respite units for children and young people across Lancashire with disabilities will go ahead.
Protest petitions and demonstrations were launched by parents angry at county county council plans to shut a number of sites used to give short breaks for youngsters with special needs.
Under approved proposals, Hargreaves House, Oswaldtwistle, Reedley Cottages in Burnley and Chorley’s Long Copse will close alongside bases in Lancaster, Morecambe, Preston, Bamber Bridge and Ormskirk.
The public consultation over the future of the service asked whether carers and staff would be in favour of four or three ‘state-of-the-art’ units to replace them.
But a wide-ranging survey did not allow for any views to be expressed about the future of the eight doomed locations.
From the given options, 51 per cent of carers and 86 per cent of staff backed plans for four replacement locations. The possible locations will include Accrington or Nelson, Preston or Chorley, Lancaster or Morecambe, and south Wyre or West Lancashire, though definite decisions are yet to be made.
The plans have been approved by county leader Coun Geoff Driver and Coun Susie Charles, schools cabinet member, after a 12-week consultation exercise.
Coun Driver said: “The staff at our existing units provide an extremely valuable service, but the buildings let them down and this was reflected in their Ofsted reports.
“We're now spending up to £7million on four incredible new overnight break units for our most vulnerable children and young people.”
Lancashire Break Time service offering evening, weekend and holiday assistance will also now be made permanent and a support service, offering help for families to manage personal care budgets, will be established.