Getting rid of day centres would be an act of gross negligence

IT was interesting to read that the county council is set to radically amend its proposals to axe day centres across the county following a storm of protest (The Hunts Post, August 8). It is difficult to discern any change of direction from the original p

IT was interesting to read that the county council is set to radically amend its proposals to axe day centres across the county following a storm of protest (The Hunts Post, August 8). It is difficult to discern any change of direction from the original proposals.

Why is Penny Butler fronting these proposals, which will affect every user of day care services in the county, when she is simply the interim head of learning disabilities? Is she there to deflect flak from those who will remain in office long after she has gone but who will then be able to claim that it was all her doing and nothing to do with them? Radical changes in any part of the structure of social services should surely be the responsibility of the person in charge, not a short term stand in.

CCC states that Huntingdon Community Centre has capacity for 100 people but only 33 use it. This is blatantly untrue, as the true number of attenders is around 70. CATS in St Ives is said to cater for 14 on a daily basis whereas it has 23 users on its books.

Claiming that the property occupied by CATS is one of the reasons for the review because of its unsuitability for the disabled is laughable. This has been the situation for years but has been steadfastly ignored by social services until the current review.


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Perhaps Ms Butler would explain to the public why the centres are barred from accepting any fresh referrals from schools and colleges. What is now happening to young people in Cambridgeshire who suffer from learning disabilities? Where are they being looked after, and by whom?

The pie in the sky declaration that voluntary organisations will take on the role is pathetic. The local branch of Mencap is alarmed at the proposal and struggles to operate its youth club because of lack of support.

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These proposals have been raised in a despicable manner, full of broad hints and innuendo - more a statement of fact than an outline to be discussed.

Perhaps the plan is to create uncertainty within the staff at the centres to encourage them to seek alternative employment, thus eventually rendering the centres inoperable. Otherwise, why declare that the centres will no longer be owned by CCC after 2009?

Children born with learning disabilities come from every section of society, irrespective of race, creed and colour and there is absolutely no way that CCC can forecast their requirements in the coming years. What is an indisputable fact, however, is that we are all living longer, including those with learning disabilities, so to dispose of day care centres would be an act of gross negligence on the part of the council.

GEORGE WILKIE, Chairman, Friends of St Michael's Association, Mill Lane, Hemingford Grey

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