TWO “vital” children’s respite homes in Redruth and Truro will close, Cornwall Council decided yesterday.
Lowenna Redwing in Truro and St Christopher’s in Redruth will shut on September 1 following the vote by the council’s Cabinet.
The closures will affect 37 children and 26 members of staff.
The homes offer disabled children short breaks away from their home life and respite for their parents from the challenges of caring for the youngsters.
More than 5,000 people had signed a petition protesting against the closures.
Mayor of Redruth Judy Davidson had previously described St Christopher’s as a “vital service for the town” and said it was a huge blow that it will be forced to close.
Initial plans suggested the homes should close on June 1 but a recommendation from Councillor Andrew Wallis, Cornwall Council’s portfolio holder for children and young people, suggested more time was needed.
Mr Wallis said: “We have tried to address people’s concerns.
“The closing in June is too early. Closing the centres in September allows families to put transitions in place and on their terms.
“June is too much strain for families.”
But Councillor Neil Burden questioned how much the council would actually be saving, given that Lowenna Redwing “is only open two days a week”.
Cornwall Council officer Jack Cordery told Cabinet members there was a “strong sense of feeling” among the local community about the closure plans.
But he said: “We will do everything we can to mitigate the impact on the children and their families.
“The affected families have been working with staff at the respite homes.
“It should be known that Cornwall Council take on the largest financial commitment to help disabled children amongst local authorities.
“But we must take into consideration the impact on local families.”
Councillor Joyce Duffin, for Portreath and Mount Hawke, said no-one wanted to cut services, but savings need to be made right across the council.
Cornwall Council’s senior manager of disabled children and therapy service, Yvette Yates, added that families were being spoken to about alternative provision of service.
She said some families have already indicated they wanted increased direct payments which can be used to fund carers for children.
She also said a specialist autism unit was already in place in Redruth.
The council voted in favour of closing the two respite homes by September 1 but agreed that alternative provisions should be found once children have been re-assessed.