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Rallying call to protect services in Bridport
BRIDPORT could lose the Fisherman’s Arms day centre, Oh Crumbs Café, Bridport Special Education Centre (SEC) and even Sidney Gale House.
The centres, the cafe staffed by people with learning disabilities and the local authority–run residential home for elderly people are all in potentially surplus buildings, says a county council report.
County councillor Karl Wallace has issued a rallying call to get people fighting to save the services.
He said: “I understand that they have to look at reduction of their portfolio of buildings that are not in use.
“I was concerned when both the Fisherman’s Arms and Bridport SEC day centre were on the agenda because we should still at least have one or the other operating here in Bridport.
“We are at such an early stage that we can fight to keep Sidney Gale here in Bridport.
“It is going to be a false economy – they are trying to scare people by saying it will cost £14 million and we can’t afford that – we can and we need to.”
A report to Dorset County Council’s adult and community services overview committee outlines possible properties that could be surplus in the future.
The committee has also commissioned a review of the future of its residential homes after a feasibility study said replacing Sidney Gale House with a 60-bed care home on a new site would cost £14 million.
The county council has also looked at other options including a private provider redeveloping Sidney Gale House, possibly in one of the town’s new housing developments in the new district plan.
The county council has also been undertaking ‘town reviews’ and says in Bridport there is the opportunity to rationalise various properties and put different services together.
Harry Capron, acting director of adult and community services said: “Providing care for older and vulnerable people is one of the main priorities for the council.
“We are not looking to close any of the services in Bridport, but if cabinet decides to support a detailed study, we would begin to explore possible options for co-locating, redeveloping and improving the locations for our services to better meet local needs.
“A full consultation with people who use the services, their carers and staff would take place before any decisions are made.”
‘No private home could take 46 people’
FORMER Bridport Town councillor Carole Murless worked at Sidney Gale for 30 years and said it would be terrible to lose such a valued home.
She said: “There are 46 people where are they going to put them?
“Always they have a waiting list. It will mean families travelling outside the area to visit.
“There is no private home in Bridport or the area that could take 46 people.”
She said there were problems with room sizes and shared bathrooms but they could rebuild it – but not privately.
“We should have a choice of local authority and private. The training is good there, you can’t beat the local authority. I worked 30 years and the care was superb.
“You certainly couldn’t take it away from Bridport that would be terrible.
“The need is here. They should build a dual purpose, nursing/ residential home.
“There is enormous need, there is always a queue of people waiting.
“If you take it away then the hospital is going to be blocked.
“We did a lot of respite care but there are only two beds now. It was an important part of care in the community.
“The Fisherman’s Arms is brilliant for people with difficulties, the kids are happy there, you don’t get the quick turnover of staff there.”
VIEWPOINT: What users of the facilities say
- TERENCE Harper’s daughter Karen, 40, attends the Bridport SEC.
Terence, pictured, said losing such a lifeline would be traumatic not only for users but their families too.
He said: “I think it is wrong if they do take it away, she would lose all her friends and colleagues that she meets there. It is an important routine and lifeline for them.
“She is not like you and me in as much as she can’t go to the pub and meet people.
“They are trying to hit everybody who can’t fight back.”
Mr Harper added day centres also gave an important respite for families looking after people with physical and mental disabilities.
- WENDY Ferris, 66, has been going to the Fisherman’s Arms day centre for years and says closure would be devastating.
She said it was a lifeline and is the only time she gets out of her Bridport home.
She said: “It is wonderful because I am disabled I don’t do anything else. If I am not in the Fisherman’s I am at home.
“All my friends I have made down there they have all got their problems but we can laugh and joke down there. It is great, we get to do such a lot of things.
“We have just had a lip reading session and I found that very good for me because I am partially deaf. It is an excellent service which I would be devastated to lose.”
- JAMES Franzen, head of Mountjoy School, said Oh Crumbs was a great benefit to pupils at the special school.
He said: “We have certainly found the benefit of Oh Crumbs for our pupils has been massive.
“Some of them have been there for work experience and found it really positive.
“Some of pupils go down because of the atmosphere and the openness. What Oh Crumbs stands for is its community service for a variety of young people and that that is celebrated can only be a great thing.”
He added that the SEC and Sidney Gale House also had a great impact on the community.