Second consultation on plan to close ‘short break’ respite centres in Hertfordshrie

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

Proposals to close a number of ‘short break’ centres for adults with disabilities in Hertfordshire are to go through a second consultation process with Herts County Council.

The council drafted proposals to close three of the eight residential centres across the county - Hixberry Lane in St Albans, Isabel Court in Hoddesdon and Tewin Road in Hemel Hempstead.

However in response to a public consultation - which closed on Thursday, November 7 - the council is now drawing up an alternative set of proposals.

Director of adult care and health Iain MacBeath confirmed there would be further consultation in a meeting of the adult health and care cabinet panel on Wednesday, November 6, but the detailed proposals for the second consultation are not yet available.

Mr MacBeath said that, as a result of the initial consultation, the council now want to look at changing the options - closing and removing different units.

He said that as some parents may have been less interested in the consultation because 'their' unit was not under threat, the consultation needed to be done again to ensure everyone had a fair say.

At the meeting, county councillor Nigel Bell - who had raised concerns about the plans to close Tewin Road centre - was assured that the feedback given as part of the initial consultation would not need to be repeated.

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The short break centres are designed to offer adults with disabilities a break from their daily routine and offer them the chance to learn new skills, as well as giving much-needed respite to their carers.

It was estimated that the initial plans to close the three respite centres would have saved the council £900,000 a year, which they said could be better spent elsewhere. According to the panel, most people using the three centres could access an alternative within 15 miles of their homes.

Following the meeting, Cllr Richard Roberts, executive member for adult health and care at the county council, said: "While it may be inconvenient to go through the consultation process again it really shows that in a sensitive area we really need to be listening, and listening very carefully, to what our users and our carers say to us - and that's why we are going back out to consultation."