PLEASE stand up and be counted – and contact your county councillor or MP – as Lincolnshire County Council is again threatening to pull the plug on services used by some of the most vulnerable people in our community.
Spalding has already lost its county council-owned Halmer Grange old folk’s home.
And now the council’s axe is poised to cut deeper still with the threatened closure of The Chappell Centre – used by adults with disabilities and learning difficulties – and the neighbouring respite centre, Cedar House.
It’s a Government plan to give disabled adults their own budgets to buy their own package of care.
All well and good.
But just where are people going to buy the care they need if all the specialist centres shut down for good?
As well as closing The Chappell Centre, the county council wants to axe five day care centres in Boston, one at Kirton and one at Bourne.
There are 30 such closures planned county-wide and, besides Cedar House, a second respite care centre is destined for the chop.
We are now in the middle of a supposed consultation.
The word ‘consultation’ has of late been stretched to mean ‘we’ll go through the motions of listening to you and then do precisely what we want’.
But it is elected members and not officers who run councils, the people who shove leaflets through our doors once every four years – ask us to vote for them – and then disappear into the ether.
Now’s the time to track down your county councillor – their details are published on the Lincolnshire County Council website – and ask them precisely where they stand.
If they stand for giving vulnerable people a raw deal by cutting the services that they rely on, you’ll know how to place your vote next time.
Few of the disabled people likely to be harmed by these cutbacks would know how to begin fighting the county council’s plans – and many of the parent/carers, some of whom are elderly, are worn down by the daily grind of looking after adult dependants with special needs.
The ‘job’ of the carers will be made harder still if the respite centres are allowed to go because it will mean they will no longer get a break for a night or two or a weekend.
Gosberton Risegate dad Michael Lee (69) has an autistic son John (42) who has been going to The Chappell Centre since he was 19.
Michael says simply: “The day centre is his world. That’s where he meets all his friends.”
Without The Chappell Centre – without his computer courses and bowling – John will regress because autistic people need the familiarity of routine and stimulus from activities.
Lynda Thorpe’s 33-year-old son Andrew can’t do anything for himself except eat and he needs help with that.
So far the only alternative offered to Andrew is care in an old people’s home.
Grantham and Stamford MP Nick Boles and South Holland and The Deepings MP John Hayes have offered to take up the cause of day centre users. But their hands would be strengthened if we all stood up and told the council this is a step too far.