Private operators to run day care

Have your say

THE closure-threatened Chappell Centre in Spalding will be run by Lincolnshire County Council until a private operator takes it on.

The Pinchbeck Road centre for disabled adults was one of 30 Lincolnshire adult social care day units facing the axe in a massive cost-cutting exercise.

But a big public protest, including a petition signed by more than 5,800 South Holland people, has won a partial change of heart with the council now offering a stay of execution by promising to try to place the running of the centres in the hands of private operators.

On Tuesday the county council executive unanimously agreed to put £500,000 into a “Day Opportunities Development Fund” and create a resource team to “work to keep the buildings open and support existing staff, local groups or businesses to take them on”.

Campaigners say this is only a partial victory for them and they will go on pressing Coun Graham Marsh, the county’s executive member for adult social care, to stick to his pledge that his authority will not abandon The Chappell Centre until “something as good or better” takes its place.

It looks unlikely at this stage that The Chappell Centre’s staff will take on the running of the centre because a workplace spokesman says their union, Unison, strongly opposes the dismantling of professional services in the public sector.

The council says at least nine groups have so far formally expressed an interest in running the centres, but has not named the groups or the centres involved.

Coun Marsh said interest has come from staff groups and parent/carer steering groups and there have been several other informal expressions of interest.

He said: “We expect a number to have their new set-ups in the next six months and them all to be resolved within two years – and we’ll keep running them in the meantime. Whether each service is run by the same people again or private enterprises, we’ll be monitoring them to ensure they meet the high standards service users deserve.

“As people will be spending their personal budgets there, it’s in the new operators’ interests to provide the type and standard of services that people want or users will take their budgets elsewhere.”