“This closure is not only ill thought out but is frankly cruel, targeting the people who are most vulnerable to this crisis we all currently face.”
Three City Councilllors for the Clifton East Ward have written a letter to express their disappointment and sadness in regards to the proposed closure of Summerwood Day Centre in Clifton.
In a statement letter penned by Cllr Kevin Clarke, Cllr Maria Watson and Cllr Kirsty Jones explained that the Day Centre is invaluable, “The work that Summerwood undertakes is invaluable and we can say from personal experience that the staff that work there are utterly incredible.”
The Day Centre has also been described as a “God-send” by parents of service users, as it supports those with sensory, physical and learning disabilities to help retain their independence.
Despite an inquiry, conducted in November last year, revealing day services for adults with learning disabilities account for just over 10% of the total financial commitment, Nottingham City Council has proposed the closure of the centre.
The Council has reviewed facilities across the city and said there will be ‘sufficient capacity to support all citizens’ across the three other similar centres located within Nottinghamshire, following the closure of Summerwood.
The statement letter from the Independent Group, City Councillors for the Clifton East Ward said:
It was with great sadness that we today learned that Nottingham City Council had publically proposed the incomprehensible decision to permanently close Summerwood Adult Day Centre in Clifton.
Summerwood is one of only three Adult Day Centres across the whole of Nottingham and the only day centre servicing the 28,000 population of Clifton.
It provides opportunities and support to people with physical, sensory and learning disabilities to help them lead healthy independent lives. The centre aims to develop, maintain and prevent the loss of a person’s independence by enabling them to rebuild their confidence, their social skills and their overall quality of life.
The work that Summerwood undertakes is invaluable and we can say from personal experience that the staff that work there are utterly incredible. This closure is not only ill thought out but is frankly cruel, targeting the people who are most vulnerable to this crisis we all currently face.
While we recognise that the Covid-19 pandemic has led to financial issues for all local authorities, not just Nottingham City Council, it is our belief that budget cuts can be made in such a way that doesn’t punish those who are most in need of help and support.
We would like to remind your readers that in the same year that the Council’s ruling group unanimously voted to defund this vital service, they also approved the decision to give themselves a pay rise.
This pay rise comes in a period where the Council announced losses of upwards of £9m on the doomed Broadmarsh project and a staggering £38m with Robin Hood Energy. And yet, while those responsible for these financial catastrophes get a pay rise, it is those without a voice of their own who must pay the price.
Following the fallout from the Robin Hood Energy debacle, both the independent auditor Grant Thornton and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government Public Interest Report, found Nottingham City Council to not only be failing in the area of financial management but also in its responsibilities towards scrutiny and accountability. The Council fully accepted these accusations and committed to resolving them. At the same time the Council undertook a public consultation regarding its proposals for an interim budget, proposals which included the closing of one of Nottingham’s adult day centres.
Although an organisation committed to resolving issues of accountability should be expected to take the results of a public consultation seriously, that has not been the case here. The consultation received an unprecedented 232 responses, 160 of which were directly relating to the issue of day centre closures. Of those 160, 97% expressed overwhelmingly negative opinions of the proposal and, like us, believe that it would be unnecessarily harmful to those at most risk during this already difficult time.
We would encourage your readers to view some of the responses to the consultation. They include dozens and dozens of heartfelt messages from medical professionals, Summerwood users and their families, alongside people who have been moved to speak up, all praising the work of Summerwood and warning of the damage that removing these services will do to the people who can least afford it.
Despite this strength of feeling, the results of the public consultation have been disregarded and the decision to close the day centre has passed regardless.
What Nottingham City Council’s decision makers may say is a necessary evil, we would argue it is simply borderline callousness. While we may just be minority Councillors, we argue that it is the job first and foremost of any Council to protect services like Summerwood and that is what we firmly intend to do.
Photographs from Google.