Councillor Sandra Peake, who represents Langwith at Bolsover District Council (BDC), was in Shirebrook Marketplace on Friday (May 13) with fellow Labour councillors and UNISON representatives rallying support for the petition, which calls for a stop to Derbyshire County Council’s (DCC) proposals to close all three adult day centres in Bolsover district.
In March, DCC launched a consultation over the future of eight day centres throughout the county, claiming they were underused.
Coun Peake, whose 51-year-old daughter Donna has been attending Carter Lane Day Centre, in Shirebrook, for more than 30 years, said if the centres close there will be no provision left for her nearby.
She explained: “There’s a private day centre in Clowne, but they will only take the more able and my daughter, who needs personal care, can’t go to this.
“She would either end up having to go to Chesterfield or Alfreton or go into a private day centre in Nottingham.”
Coun Peake said the staff at Carter Lane were ‘brilliant’ and Donna loves going there, adding that she is autistic and doesn’t respond well to change.
She pointed out that if the centres closed it would mean a loss of respite for parents and carers, as well as friendship groups for service users.
“Derbyshire County Council should be ashamed of themselves for how they’re treating the most vulnerable in our society,” Coun Peake stated.
The authority is currently consulting over the future of the centres, however the Conservative administration’s recent decision to close seven care homes for the elderly, irrespective of the results of a public consultation, has left many concerned that the authority is not listening to residents’ voices.
Labour campaigners have accused the authority of curbing referrals to day centres to make it look as though they are not in demand.
Fellow Bolsover councillor Liz Smyth commented: “They have used the shut down during Covid to diminish the service and claim people aren’t using it, but they only weren’t using it because of Covid.”
She accused DCC leaders of ‘massaging the figures to make them fit’.
BDC chairman Councillor Tom Munro echoed her concerns over what he called DDC’s ‘cynical approach’ to care provision over the last year.
As ward member for Whitwell, he spoke in relation to Whitwell Day Centre, adding: “They instructed staff to work to unrealistic ratios of two adults per user.
“They argue that the service was no longer required when it’s clearly required.”
Jeanette Lloyd, branch secretary for Derbyshire UNISON, said between the care homes and adult day centres up to 500 workers were facing displacement.
She said: “Overwhelmingly the staff’s main concern is about the service users.
“But from a UNISON point of view we need to preserve public services.”
She commented the possibility of redundancies was ‘absolutely undeniable’, adding that the union would support staff throughout the process.
A spokesman for Derbyshire County Council said: “We are committed to supporting people with learning disabilities, their families and carers but traditional services, such as a day centre, may not always be the best way of doing this although we also recognise that for some people with very complex needs a building-based service may be part of their care and support plan.
“Our plans are to retain four day centres and relocate anyone that wanted to continue using these by providing transport where necessary, and we would ensure that people could still access suitable provision including those who have specialist or complex needs.
“If the plans went ahead, our trained staff would fully support people to make the right choices for their support in the future.”
The DDC consultation runs until June 19 and people can take part by visiting www.derbyshire.gov.uk/learningdisabilityredesign
To sign the petition opposing the proposals, click here.