Herts Ad Comment: A new hope for Nascot Lawn?

STOCK Generic office

STOCK Generic office - Credit: Archant

Discussing the current situation regarding the future of respite centre Nascot Lawn in the Herts Advertiser office, the team was debating exactly what sort of a victory has been achieved now the High Court judicial review has been avoided.

As far as we can tell, Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (HVCCG) might have reinstated funding for the centre, but this is only in the short term while a consultation exercise is underway, and as staff are still being urged to find new jobs it doesn’t sound like any sort of permanent solution.

Without making light of the situation for a second, reporter Fraser Whieldon drew on pop culture references when he described the “victory” as more akin to the end of sci fi film Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back than its previous instalment A New Hope.

“It’s more a case of lost limbs and your friend being frozen in carbonite than medals and beeping droids,” he said, referring to the contrasting conclusions of the two movies.

This unusual comparison is actually rather apt, as for all the celebratory statements being released by the likes of the CCG and the Disabled Children’s Partnership, we have to ask whether the situation actually changed or is the consultation merely delaying the inevitable for PR reasons?

Rather than face the humiliation of a High Court challenge which would highlight further how they were prepared to remove provisions from children with complex health needs, the CCG is taking steps to close this legal loophole by beginning a process of consultation.

This will not only prevent a further court challenge under the original reasons, but will look as though the CCG is far from the heartless organisation it previously appeared because it has made an effort to actually speak to the families affected by the proposed closure of Nascot Lawn, rather than presenting it as a fait accomplit as was the case previously.

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However, as we have seen many times before, far too often this sort of action is merely a box-ticking exercise, and the result will be the same whatever the public say.

After all, the CCG still needs to save £45m, which means the money to finance the respite centre beyond January 2018 still does not exist.

It’s no wonder then that parents in the Save Nascot Lawn campaign group have reacted with caution to this latest development.

There is still no guarantee of funding in the new year, and Herts county council has effectively washed its hands of providing any cash beyond the end of January, which means there is still a massive cloud of uncertainty hanging over Nascot Lawn afterwards.

So not so much a new hope, more of a stay of execution until the CCG strikes back?

It certainly seems as though the battle to save Nascot Lawn is far from over.

We can only hope that the force remains strong in the parents campaign group, and that this small victory eventually leads to a greater triumph in the months to come.