County agrees closure of Harpenden respite unit

PUBLISHED: 12:01 17 February 2010 | UPDATED: 14:53 06 May 2010

CLOSURE of a three-bedded respite unit for children at a Harpenden hostel has been rubber-stamped by councillors at County Hall. With little or no debate, the county council cabinet agreed on Monday that the beds at Stairways in Douglas Road should close

CLOSURE of a three-bedded respite unit for children at a Harpenden hostel has been rubber-stamped by councillors at County Hall.

With little or no debate, the county council cabinet agreed on Monday that the beds at Stairways in Douglas Road should close when a new unit opens in the west of the county at some time in the future.

The decision was taken despite numerous objections from parents of children who use the unit and wanted to see it remain open.

The county council has been consulting on a shake-up of short-break services for disabled children and those with learning difficulties and favours a so-called hub and spoke model with a main centre where services will be coordinated and a residential element in five spokes across Herts for short-break care and outreach activities..

Stairways has been asked to continue running its outreach service to take youngsters out and about despite the closure of the children's respite unit.

Patrick Fisher, a trustee of Harpenden Mencap, who was at the meeting said: "It was like receiving royal assent, there was no discussion. It was all decided beforehand."

He pointed out that the children's unit would not close until the new one was up and running and Harpenden Mencap could well find themselves bidding against another charity for the tender, the documents for which are expected to be available by May to June.

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