AROUND 5,000 people have so far signed the ‘save the Chappell Centre’ petition in a bid to stop Lincolnshire County Council shutting the day services centre for disabled adults.
That means local protestors will get their say in Lincoln on February 1 and force a council scrutiny committee to debate the issue.
The county council is threatening to pull the plug on 29 other day care centres in the county.
It also wants to close Cedar House, a respite care centre sharing the Chappell Centre site in Pinchbeck Road, Spalding. A second respite care unit, Swallow Lodge at North Hykeham, is under threat and that too is used by people from this area.
Lincolnshire County Council promised parents and carers of disabled people that the Chappell Centre would not close until something as good or better is put in its place. But, midway through the consultation process, nothing has been put forward that parents and carers consider suitable.
Disabled people who use day service centres are being switched to personal budgets so they buy their care – but parents say the budgets are no good if there is nowehere for them to go or if the sum is swallowed up by travel costs to far flung places.
Gosberton Risegate couple Michael and Sheila Lee had thousands sign their petition at Sainsbury’s and say there is immense public support for the Chappell Centre.
Mr Lee said: “If the county council takes these services away, everybody is going to struggle.
“I think it’s about saving money and privatisation. They are not really worried about people, they are worried about money.”
Their autistic son Jon (42) has attended the Chappell Centre for years and would regress without that care.
Mr Lee said: “After a time we would not be able to look after him because he would become too disturbed to look after. That would mean residential care.”
The Lees are adamant they don’t want Jon to go into residential care or be trapped in his own home because the personal budget won’t allow him to travel for proper care.
At the moment he rides to the Chappell Centre with others in a minibus that has an escort to look after them.
A one-way taxi fare to Spalding would cost £15.
Mr Lee said: “At the moment, with our son at the Chappell Centre, we are very happy, Jon’s happy. Everything is tickety-boo, but when that’s withdrawn everything is going to get very hard for us.
“It makes us then think ‘what happens when we are not here?’ Will we be able to trust the council and the Government to look after Jon when we are not here any more?”
Fellow campaigner Maurice Chappell said the county council has not come up with any “real solutions” to put something in the place of the Chappell Centre.