Tory-controlled Derbyshire County Council’s plan to close eight of its 12 day centres for people with learning disabilities will have a serious effect for families who rely on them as a crucial service.
Being offered an alternative to travel on public transport to the remaining services across the whole of Derbyshire is not good enough. For many, it will mean consignment to their homes, to be looked after by unpaid family carers, who themselves are often elderly relatives who will lose a much-needed break during the day.
The council claims the services must close because of a lack of demand, but this is nonsense. Even its consultation says they intend to work with independent, private, and voluntary providers to continue services for those in need. If there is no demand, why?!
“We are proposing to redesign services to move away from traditional building-based day services, in favour of offering alternative opportunities in the community”, says its blurb. This removes the single most important feature about day centres: their existence as places to go for companionship and support. Removing the actual building can remove people’s contact with the outside world.
The council’s heartless plan will destroy all of this. Derbyshire Unison, the union which organises the workers, has pledged to fight the closures. Chesterfield Socialist Party is urging a major joint campaign involving families, staff, trade unions and community supporters to keep our day centres open.