Clo­sure of ‘life­line’ day cen­tre may be un­law­ful Coun­cil could now face ju­di­cial re­view as lawyers join bat­tle

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Ali­son Stacey Health Cor­re­spon­dent

BIRM­ING­HAM City Coun­cil is be­ing urged to re­think an ‘un­law­ful’ de­ci­sion to close a day cen­tre that pro­vides a ‘vi­tal life­line’ to adults with phys­i­cal and learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties in Kings Nor­ton.

The coun­cil’s cabi­net ap­proved the clo­sure of the Fair­way Day Cen­tre in Kings Nor­ton in a meet­ing on Sep­tem­ber 18.

But now lawyers at Ir­win Mitchell are pre­par­ing to ap­ply for a ju­di­cial re­view into the pro­posal, as they claim the ap­pli­ca­tion was un­law­ful as there was in­ad­e­quate con­sul­ta­tion.

The de­ci­sion to close the cen­tre was ini­tially ap­proved in July, but the cabi­net was or­dered to con­sider the de­ci­sion again by the Health and So­cial Care scru­tiny com­mit­tee fol­low­ing a chal­lenge from Cllr Alex Aitken (Lab, Kings Nor­ton North).

In the Sep­tem­ber meet­ing Cllr Rob Po­cock said un­like the li­brary clo­sure con­sul­ta­tion, there was not an ad­e­quate con­sul­ta­tion with the pub­lic about which cen­tres should close.

He said ini­tially the coun­cil had ‘de­cided and then con­sulted’.

Lawyers are now act­ing for the fam­ily of one of the cen­tre’s users, who has a range of con­di­tions in­clud­ing mus­cu­lar dys­tro­phy, cere­bral palsy and learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties. She uses the cen­tre four days a week.

Ir­win Mitchell’s Oliver Carter, rep­re­sent­ing the fam­ily on the case said: “Fair­way Day Cen­tre is a vi­tal hub for vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple in the Kings Nor­ton area and the com­mu­nity is ex­tremely con­cerned re­gard­ing the steps which have been taken to close it. Af­ter re­view­ing the key facts sur­round­ing this case, we be­lieve the de­ci­sion has ul­ti­mately been taken on un­law­ful grounds and we are now urg­ing the coun­cil to once again re­visit the is­sue.

“The clo­sure of this site will have a sig­nif­i­cant neg­a­tive im­pact on a num­ber of peo­ple and it is clear that it should not be taken lightly. Users of the cen­tre be­lieve that the coun­cil had failed to con­sult and so did not know just how se­ri­ously this will im­pact on the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

“We will sup­port our clients ev­ery step of the way in this mat­ter.”

But Labour cabi­net mem­ber for health and so­cial care Paulette Hamil­ton has pre­vi­ously de­nied that the con­sul­ta­tion fell short.

She said in the Sep­tem­ber meet­ing: “As the cabi­net mem­ber I be­lieve strongly that we did con­sult with ser­vice users, and have apolo- gised re­gard­ing the gap in con­sul­ta­tion prior to Sep­tem­ber 2017.

“Fur­ther­more, as stated a num­ber of times when ser­vice users ap­proached me to say they were not be­ing lis­tened to, the con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod was restarted, sup­port then com­mis­sioned by an in­de­pen­dent ad­vo­cate.”

She said the new strat­egy shows a move from build­ing-based ser­vices to sup­port for in­di­vid­u­als, which would “make a pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tion to thir com­mu­ni­ties”.

She added: “To do noth­ing would mean a con­tin­u­a­tion of a high cost ser­vice from an un­der-utilised high cost build­ing in a poor state of re­pair, which we have no fund­ing to do the re­pairs that are needed which are es­ti­mated to be around £400,000.

“It would be not prac­ti­cal... to keep it open for the sake of keep­ing it open. We do need now to push on with some of the changes that we make in the city.”

But Cllr Hamil­ton did ad­mit that she had al­ready agreed to the clo­sure of the cen­tre be­fore the con­sul­ta­tion took place.

She said that they had the sav­ings out­lined in the bud­get, but the new adult care strat­egy did not come un­til 18 months later.

Wendy Col­ly­more, chair­man of the cam­paign group Save Fair­way Cam­paign Group said the clo­sure would have a huge im­pact on the 51 ser­vice users.

She said: “Fair­way is an es­sen­tial part of the care ar­range­ments for so many peo­ple, yet the coun­cil took the de­ci­sion on clo­sure with­out talk­ing to any of us first. In terms of my fa­ther, mov­ing to a new cen­tre would up­set him im­mensely as he has formed vi­tal bonds with his peers and staff at Fair­way.

“We are de­ter­mined to en­sure our voices are heard on this is­sue and hope that ap­ply­ing for a ju­di­cial re­view will make peo­ple recog­nise the need for a re­think.”

It would be not prac­ti­cal... to keep it open for the sake of keep­ing it open Cllr Paulette Hamil­ton

> Ser­vice users out­side the Fair­way Day Cen­tre in Kings Nor­ton, protest­ing over the coun­cil’s de­ci­sion to close it

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.