Three Merseyside day care centres threatened with closure have been given a temporary reprieve by Wirral Council.
Hundreds of angry protesters were in attendance at a Wirral Council budget meeting, opposing the cuts which could see Moreton, Heswall and Eastham day centres permanently closed as the local authority aims to save £42 million in the next financial year.
Stephen McGreal, whose daughter Nicola uses an adult day centre in Moreton, told JMU Journalism that the council meeting was an “absolutely disgraceful performance” from councillors of all parties.
He said: “They bickered amongst themselves for two-and-a-half hours, it was an absolute embarrassment. If any other committee or organisation performed in the way they did, they’d be censored and reprimanded for unprofessional conduct. It was an absolute shambles of a meeting.”
During the meeting at Wallasey Town Hall, the Labour-controlled cabinet approved budget plans which aim to keep the centres open, as Councillor Philip Brightmore said the Labour budget was “making tough decisions while trying to protect frontline services”. A three-month consultation process with the public will now take place in order to decide the fate of the centres.
Mr McGreal thinks that the unresolved issue of the closure of these day care centres is “just a blip on the council’s radar” and that the measures put forward aren’t as transparent as they seem.
He said: “The consultation period is a total red herring, it’s mandatory; they have to give the three months. They’re just trying to stampede the three centres through a process which is totally daunting of their own budget.
“The centres are a form of respite for the carers. If you take the day care centres away, people don’t get this break, and so closing the centres is not an option.”
Adult students with physical and learning disabilities who attend the borough’s three imperilled centres composed a song called ‘Stand Together’ in protest about the closures.
The song was recorded at Moreton day centre, one of the centres under threat, and singer Caroline England led the group when they recorded the track.
With the help of their music teacher, the users of the centre wrote the lyrics to express their opposition against the proposed cuts. The song is now available to listen to on YouTube and has attracted 4,553 viewers.
Caroline told JMU Journalism: “The students wrote down how they felt and with help from their music teacher put the words to music. I was brought in to help lead them in singing their song the day before we shot the video that is now up on YouTube.
“I think that the decisions are difficult, but I would sincerely hope that these are well-informed and fair and that they protect our most vulnerable people and their families.”