Thank you for our petition entitled, “Prevent the closure of Merrydale and Sunbeams respite centres” which was submitted on 22 December 2017. A number of the signatories were not from within the Hampshire County Council area resulting in the number stated in the Executive Member Decision Day report of 4,313. The petition response was taken into account for the Decision Day held on 15 January 2018. You will be aware that having taken all responses into account, the decision was approved to close Merrydale and Sunbeams at the end of May 2018. Further scrutiny of this decision took place today, at an additional Children & Families Select Committee meeting. This meeting considered whether the decision should be reconsidered but concluded that the decision stood.
The County Council acknowledges the strong feeling of concern and anxiety from parents, carers and the public about the closure of Merrydale and Sunbeams, services that have been valued by many families over a long period of time. We must emphasise that there will be no reduction in the level of service that families receive and we will do all we can to support children and their families in identifying and transitioning to new services.
The Decision Day report outlined the work that the County Council has undertaken over the last four years with the support of parents and carers to review the services on offer and ensure that at a time of reduced funding from central government, the County Council is meeting the needs of disabled children and their families in the most cost effective way that promotes flexibility of choice and sustainability for the future. We are assured that there is capacity in County Council and other provision to meet the needs of children directly affected now and those who will access the service in the future.
We note that this decision will be disappointing for many of the families accessing services but again would like to provide assurance that they will be supported through making choices about new provision and transitioning to new services.
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to respond.
Councillor Keith Mans
Executive Lead Member for Children’s Services and Deputy Leader