CHESTERFIELD: MP’s bid to save threatened centre

Families and service users at Yew Trees centre on Queen Street, Chesterfield, gets a visit from Toby Perkins MP as it faces closure due to cuts.
Families and service users at Yew Trees centre on Queen Street, Chesterfield, gets a visit from Toby Perkins MP as it faces closure due to cuts.

Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins has joined forces with parents in a desperate bid to save a threatened centre which cares for youngsters with severe learning disabilities.

Yew Trees, on Queen Street, Chesterfield, which provides overnight short breaks and day care, could be closed by Derbyshire County Council (DCC) with youngsters forced to find alternative accomodation.

DCC said it was committed to meeting the needs of disabled youngsters and had launched a consultation over the plans.

Mr Perkins said: “I recognise what a great reputation Yew Trees has and want it to stay open.

“I hope that DCC will soon take a more progressive view about the services they provide and think carefully about the responsibility they have to these young adults and give Yew Trees the breathing space it needs.”

Parents Mary and Andrew Chambers said: “We know young people love it at Yew Trees.

“We feel passionately that it should be given the chance to continue to provide its services – it should not be lost for our youngsters or for the generations of young adults to come”

Cllr Barry Lewis, cabinet member for young people at DCC, said: “While I acknowledge the concerns that parents and carers have about Yew Trees this is not about taking away or cutting a service.

“This is about delivering a service differently and ensuring continuous improvement.

“The reaction of Toby Perkins, especially ahead of the county council elections, is typical of the Derbyshire Labour ethos of resisting and attacking change, especially to grab a headline.

“This administration has done much since 2009 to ensure services for disabled children and their parents and carers have been protected.

“We now have state-of-the-art facilities throughout Derbyshire that can meet the needs of service users in a way that will at least equal their current experience.

“Had Labour been in power in Derbyshire since 2009 and given that they have said they would not have made savings in the areas that we have I believe these services would have suffered cuts.

“I think our approach of protecting services for those most in need underlines our ethos of delivering high-quality services for Derbyshire residents.”

A DCC spokesman added: “DCC is committed to meeting the needs of disabled young people.

“The contract for the service provided at Yew Trees is coming to an end but all young people who need short breaks will continue to have them.

“We fully understand the anxiety that changes to services cause to young people who use the service and their families. We are consulting with them closely about the provision of future short breaks. There’s still time for people to take part in our consultation. They can fill in our questionnaire covering services for 16 to 17-year-olds at which ends on May 18 2013. We will be consulting about services for 18 to 21-year-olds later in the year.

“We are also still in discussions with Action for Children which runs Yew Trees about the service they may provide in the future based in the Chesterfield area.”