Have your say on proposed closures to adult respite services in Hertfordshire

Adult respite services in Hixberry Lane, St Albans are among those under threat of closure. Picture:

Adult respite services in Hixberry Lane, St Albans are among those under threat of closure. Picture: Danny Loo - Credit: Archant

Concerns have been raised at proposals to close a number of ‘short break’ centres for adults with disabilities in Hertfordshire.

The short break centres offer adults with disabilities a break from their daily routine and the opportunity to learn new skills, as well as giving respite to those who care for them.

Currently Herts County Council offers respite services at eight centres across Herts, but the authority is now looking at proposals to close three - Hixberry Lane in St Albans, Isabel Court in Hoddesdon and Tewin Road in Hemel Hemsptead - which provide a total of 13 respite places.

Although the plans are at an early consultation stage, Labour councillors Nigel Bell and Sharon Taylor have raised the issue amid fears that carers will have to travel up to 15 miles.

At a meeting of the county council's performance and resources cabinet panel on Thursday, October 24, Cllr Taylor pointed to a number of Stevenage residents who rely on the respite service, and said it was important not to disrupt a service that was "incredibly valuable".

She said: "This can have such a profound impact on people's lives. I wouldn't want us to take steps towards that without more consideration.

"We shouldn't be extending people's travel distances, unless we have thought very hard abut how we are going to do that sustainably."

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According to the county council, the existing short breaks services are under-used, with some centres less than half full during 2018/2019. Whether the centres are used or not, the county council still has to meet their costs, and closure could free up £900,000 a year to be used elsewhere.

The consultation on the proposals is currently ongoing - but will end on Thursday, November 7.

Councillor Richard Roberts, executive member for adult care and health, said: "The proposed changes would allow us to stop spending money on under-utilised services.

"I'd urge anyone currently using or planning to use these services in the future to provide their feedback so councillors can review this and make an informed choice when the decision comes to panel in December."

For more information and to have your say see hertfordshire.gov.uk/consultation.