The final decision on the future of a short breaks respite unit in Kidderminster for severely disabled children will be reached in public, council chiefs have revealed.
Worcestershire’s cabinet member for families, Councillor Andy Roberts, has agreed that the fate of the unit in Ludlow Road must be debated in a public forum after pressure from families and campaigners.
He met with families on Wednesday to share his decision. They had originally been told Councillor Roberts would use delegated powers to make the decision on his own, without further public discussion.
In a subsequent letter, families were told: “These are important and detailed decisions involving involving services that are provided both by the county council itself and our provider (Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust) and that it is essential that the decision-making process is transparent and robust.”
Recommendations over the future of the service will now be revealed in committee papers released on July 4th, ahead of a final meeting with families on July 9th. Worcestershire’s Cabinet – made up of the leading members of the ruling Conservative group – will then debate and vote on a final decision on July 12th.
Amanda Danby, whose son Mason attends Ludlow Road for regular overnight and short holiday breaks, said she was very pleased the decision would now be open to full public scrutiny.
As previously reported in Wyre Life, the six-bed unit was earmarked for closure as part of cost cutting measures designed to slash around £600,000 off the bill for overnight respite care in the county.
At a meeting last month, parents had warned that “reluctantly” legal action could follow if the council fails to “do the right thing” over plans to close the six-bed respite care unit in Ludlow Road. They have taken soundings from legal specialists over a possible judicial review into the handling of the consultation into the proposals.
Tracey Rochelle, speaking for the parents of children who use Ludlow Road, had voiced the “unbelievable frustration” of parents at the way the consultation over the plans has been conducted.
She spoke at Worcestershire County Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Performance Board last month, when members voted unanimously to back a scrutiny report which condemned the conduct of the consultation process.
The scrutiny task group, led by Councillor Fran Oborski, made a series of recommendations, including a call for the final decision to be made in public.
The end is finally in sight after a long drawn out process which has caused anxiety and frustration for parents of children currently using the service, as well as uncertainty for staff.
VIEW PREVIOUS STORIES ABOUT THE LUDLOW ROAD CAMPAIGN HERE:
Colleagues at the Kidderminster Shuttle newspaper have also been following the campaign, and reported recently about concerns that the financial information around the costs of the Ludlow Road unit were inaccurate and misleading. Their story is here