PARENTS of disabled users of Spalding’s Chappell Centre are gearing up to fight its possible closure.
Maurice Chappell (83) – the son of the man who gave his name to the centre – branded county council plans to axe it as “a return to the dark ages”.
The county council hit list includes a respite care centre, Cedar House, on the same Pinchbeck Road site, day centres in Bourne and Kirton and a further respite care centre, Swallow Lodge at North Hykeham, which is used by people from this area.
Mr Chappell said: “To me it’s a hopeless situation because the Chappell Centre is a lifeline to so many families. It will be a disaster if it closes.
“I am very unhappy and very disappointed. I just worry about some of the families who have got some severely handicapped children there.
“I have had a lot of contact because I have a daughter Claire, who has Down’s Syndrome. Claire has been going there for about 25 years. She is very unhappy about this. I am not sure where Claire will go.
“Claire is a reasonably able person. She is out and about in town this morning.
“There’s some families who have got some very, very challenging members of the family – I am sure they must be worried to death.”
The Chappell Centre was named after Maurice’s father, Harold, the last chairman of Holland County Council. Harold Chappell opened the centre in 1982 flanked by his sons, Maurice and Bryn.
Mr Chappell hopes to win the backing of South Holland and The Deepings MP John Hayes to fight the closures although he says he’s sure the county council’s mind is already made up.
Protestors in Bourne collected more than 850 signatures in five days against the county cuts and presented those to Grantham and Stamford MP Nick Boles on Saturday.
They also hope to put their petition on line.
Bourne mum Tracey Byles said service users like her daughter Sally (23) – who have no understanding of what is going on – are expected by the council to make decisions on their future and spend a personal budget to buy care.
But once the county council closes the centres on its list, there will be nowhere for them to go.
Severely disabled Sally Byles is wheelchair bound, cannot speak, cannot feed herself and needs constant nursing.
Mrs Byles said: “Sally can’t understand the letter that was sent to her as to what it could possibly mean. It is not fair for her to be imprisoned in her own home.”
She said the council is picking on the most innocent and vulnerable people in society and it could mean that a lot of them will have to stay at home.
Mrs Byles said: “It’s not just immoral. I think it’s unlawful to pick on highly innocent and vulnerable people.”
* See letters page 4.