Reassurance from MP Nick Boles over day care services

AN MP has moved to reassure care users they will not be left without vital day centre services.

Stamford MP Nick Boles met with the chief executive of Lincolnshire County Council Tony McArdle on Friday last week to discuss the council’s plans to shut down the Stamford Day Centre in Ryhall Road and the Stamford and Bourne Learning Disability Services, based in Abbey Road, Bourne.

The council wants to move adult social care users onto the personal budget scheme, which lets them choose where to spend their publicly-funded care grant.

To save money, the council also wants to close its own in-house day care services.

Many care users have been left confused and upset by the plans.

The Mercury ran a campaign calling on the council to drop its proposals to shut the day centres. The campaign was backed by more than 450 readers.

But Mr Boles is confident vulnerable people will not be left without the services on which they depend.

He said: “What is clear, to reassure people, is that this is a totally genuine consultation.

“They have not made any final decisions. The council recognises there is a huge strength of feeling about this.

“The key is that they are absolutely not going to close anything unless it is clear that there are alternative and equivalent services available for people who depend on them.”

The council hopes private providers and charities will come forward and fill the gap that would be left by the closure of the day centres.

Councillors are also trying to encourage day centre staff to join with these organisations if they want to keep facilities open.

Mr Boles added: “The council is very, very keen for people working in the day centres and for other charities and community groups in the area to come forward with proposals to take these day centres forward and to set them up independently so that the centres remain open.

“They would then have to win the support of their client base. The council is very keen to help them if they want to do this It is certainly in tune with the idea of the Big Society.”

Mr Boles accepted this could be daunting for carers and day centre staff but is confident the council is doing the right thing.

He said: “I certainly was very much reassured that they are not taking any rash decisions and that they are very keen that it should be possible for day centres that are genuinely popular to remain open under a different management.”