Legal Action To Save Shropshire Adult Day Care Centres

Specialist Lawyers Instructed To Challenge Consultation By Day Centre User


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

Shropshire residents have issued High Court proceedings against Shropshire Council to halt the potential closure of adult day care centres in Shrewsbury.

Specialist public lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have been instructed to act on behalf of two adults with learning disabilities and has issued court proceedings to seek permission for a Judicial Review of Shropshire Council’s decision to close the centres.

The Hartley’s Day Care centre and Sabrina Court in Shrewsbury are earmarked for immediate closure, while Avalon and Lorne Street in Oswestry will close in the future. The centre in Innage Lane, Bridgnorth, is under review and there are concerns about the future at Mayfair in Church Stretton.

Hartley’s Day Centre is due to close on 5 November 2013 and the law firm had asked the council to stop their plans to close the centre due to alleged problems with the consultation process which residents say was unfair. However the council refused to back down and have accelerated steps to close Hartley’s leaving residents with no option but to issue court proceedings to try to save the day centre services.

Local resident LH, aged 63, requires constant supervision and lives with her sister Jennifer Lee who cares for her in Shropshire. She has attended Hartley’s Day Centre in Shrewsbury, Shropshire for over 9 years.

LH attended Hartley’s for four days per week until January this year when her care package was altered to two days at Hartley’s with other placements at other centres. LH was not told at this time that Hartley’s was facing closure. However the other centres are run by volunteers as well as staff and are not always open, with no alternatives provided, putting extra pressure on Jennifer and the family.

Jennifer said: "I only heard through the local news that some of the day services were closing. We are extremely worried because no one had talked to us about any alternatives. My sister was distraught and she just wanted to know what would happen to her friends and the staff who have become like a second family to her.

"Because of all the uncertainty it’s having an effect on her and her behaviour is different because like most people with learning disabilities, change has a massive effect on her. She has to build up trust with her carers.

"During the summer, one of the volunteer centres was shut for four weeks without any other service being provided or suggested by the council. We feel like the council is only looking at what savings they can make rather than the impact it has on those directly affected and their families.

"We are determined to fight the closure of Hartley’s and all the day centres. The Council say that they consulted, but none of us knew anything about these proposals until we read about it in the local newspaper.

"Instead of properly considering our concerns, the Council have accelerated the closure and in the last few days have told staff that they are being made redundant and have removed items from Hartley’s like the fridge and fish tank."

John Miles, whose 43-year-old daughter also uses the services in Church Stretton, said: "There were around 60 carers and their supporters who opposed these plans at a meeting to discuss the issue but the council didn’t seem to think our views were significant and has pretty much ignored us. We have no choice but to seek legal action to try to keep these centres open."

Alex Rook, a specialist lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing the family said: "Our client and her family were distraught when the closure of the Hartley’s Day Centre was announced. They say they have not been contacted at all about the potential closure and the Council now seem to be saying that they do not need to consult about the closures with local people at all. 

"We believe that the decision may have been unlawful because of a flawed consultation process and because the Council has failed to act in accordance with its obligations under the Equality Act 2010. The council should have ensured that consultees, including those who use day services and those who care for adults who use day services, were aware of the proposal to close specific day centres including Hartley’s, and explained to them the rationale for the proposal so that they could share their views.

"We had tried to enter discussions with the council about the closure but they have refused to back down and are trying to press ahead with making staff redundant. We have been left with no choice but to seek permission for a Judicial Review of the closure decision in our bid to keep Hartley’s and the other day centres open until the Council has properly consulted local residents."

Rossanna Trudgian, from learning disability charity Mencap, which supports the legal action, said: "Mencap is disappointed at Shropshire Council’s decision to close Hartley’s day centre and other day centres. If these closures go ahead this could leave many people with a learning disability, including the claimants in this case, without appropriate day services and stuck in their homes.
"The local authority did not adequately consult service users and their families on their proposals to close the centres, which has meant people were not able to make their views known or understand what the changes would mean for them."

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in social and healthcare law.