Hertfordshire Liberal Democrats decry the decision by Conservative members to close three short break respite homes across the county, significantly reducing capacity.
The three sites slated for closure are at Tewin Road, Hemel Hempstead, Hixberry Lane, St Albans and Apton Road, Bishops Stortford.
At the Adult Care and Health Panel today, a petition was presented by the Carers organisation, Carers in Herts, making very valid points and seeking a cooperative process with Adult Care Services to build the right respite strategy service before closures are considered, and Cllr Ron Tindall as LibDem spokesperson put this forward as an alternative recommendation to the panel. Sadly this vote was lost with all Conservative members voting against, despite several of them having echoed the concerns of the petitioners and opposition members during the debate. Instead the proposal to authorise closure was voted through; all opposition members voted against. One Conservative Member who had suggested that the recommendation should be amended to consider the plans further before committing to closures at least abstained (much to his credit).
Cllr Nigel Quinton commented: "This programme of closures is borne of a flawed analysis that suggests services were being underutilised. However, the data presented to the panel, and the responses to the consultations which took place before Christmas have all shown that far from being under used, there are problems obtaining respite care due to under capacity, problems that will be made far worse by these closures. My challenges to the calculations were not answered by officers."
Cllr Chris White spoke in support of the petitioner (who is a resident in his Division) commented: "Tewin Road and Hixberry Lane both have usage in excess of 80% and high levels of user satisfaction. Closing them makes absolutely no sense whatsoever and a glance at the map of service users shows how many will be seriously affected by the closure of these units."