Campaigners defiant over centre closure

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Moreton centre campaigners staging a protest against the closure © Facebook/Save Moreton Centre

Moreton centre campaigners staging a protest against the closure © Facebook/Save Moreton Centre

Wirral Council has announced Moreton Centre is set to close in budget cut measures but care campaigners say they will continue to fight to save it from closure.

The news was delivered at an emotional meeting on Monday chaired by Director of Adult Social Care at Wirral Borough Council, Graham Hodkinson.

Mr Hodkinson announced that the Moreton centre for for adults with physical and learning difficulties is the council’s “preferred option” to close, despite it being the cheapest to run.

The future of other day centres in Heswall and Eastham is still uncertain.

Campaigners have been trying to stop the closure of the centre and have even created a song as a way of pleading with the Labour-controlled council, emphasising their importance of the centres to the Wirral’s vulnerable adults.

Officials from all three centres on the Wirral have met to discuss how to move forward.

Reports from the meeting suggest that many people were crying at the news and were heckling the council representative.

Mr Hodkinson said: “We know how passionately people feel about their centres, but we have no option but to look at closing one of them.

“Wirral must save £109 million over the next three years. A large proportion of the council’s budget is spent on social care, particularly for adults. Compared to similar authorities, Wirral’s costs relating to day services are in the top 20%, and our costs per person are in the top 10%. We have to deliver these services more cost effectively.

“The recommendation to close Moreton has been made primarily due to the size and design of the service, and also because it is furtherest away from our desired vision of delivering services for people with disabilities in much smaller settings rather than large day centres.”

A three-month consultation will now take place with service users and their carers until June 5, which the council says will allow the public to think of alternative ideas and put them forward.

Jobs at all three centres are said to be at risk.

© Facebook Save Moreton Centre

© Save Moreton Centre

Conservative Councillor Chris Blakeley of the Moreton West and Saughall Massie ward told JMU Journalism: “Put simply, this news will be absolutely devastating not only to the service users, parents and carers but to the Moreton community.

“The adult day centre is part of the Moreton community and has been for many years. It’s not just a place where people go and do nothing, it teaches social skills, work ethic and provides a safe haven.

“It’s not about bricks and mortar, this is a disgraceful way to treat people who need our support.”

Conservative Councillor for Leasowe & Moreton, Ian Lewis, echoed Cllr Blakeley’s thoughts. He told JMU Journalism: “It’s not like closing a school, where children will be relocated and may quickly adapt.  Nor is it like closing an office, and expecting all the staff to readjust after a few weeks.

“The day centres are there for people who, not always but very often, are in need of routine and continuity. It’s people who are very often frightened and distressed by the slightest change in their daily lives and who do not cope well with upheavals. “

About Jess Etherington, JMU Journalism