Pledge Over York Day Care Standards

A council chief has pledged that people using a York day care centre will not receive a lower level of service when it shuts down next year.

Bill Hodson said Yearsley Bridge’s learning disabled users will get individually tailored care and activities at a range of other locations across the city, although details would not be available until the new year.

“This is not about reducing the level of services to people,” said Mr Hodson, director of housing and adult social services at City of York Council.

“It is about providing them in a different way that is better suited to the needs of each person.”

He said once the individual needs of each person had been assessed, the council would be putting together individual support plans to meet personal requests and needs. Mr Hodson also revealed that while the centre in Huntington Road was still on schedule to close next May, its hydrotherapy pool would remain open until the spring of 2009 – when a new hydrotherapy pool is due to open as part of a new swimming pool complex at Oaklands, in Acomb.

His comments came after months of protests by a group of parents and carers of centre users against the closure of Yearsley, which is attended by about 70 learning disabled adults each week.

The Yearsley Action Group, which has collected 6,000 signatures for a petition against closure, has claimed the stress caused by the centre’s looming closure has left some users and carers having to be prescribed increased medication.

It has also complained that with only six months to go until closure, parents still do not know where their sons and daughters will go and claimed that provision elsewhere in the city is full.

Mr Hodson, speaking at a press conference yesterday after a series of meetings had been held with parents, said he accepted that change could be stressful.

He also conceded that, in retrospect, users could have been better informed last year about the council’s intentions to shut the centre, when it had originally referred simply to proposals to “modernise” services.

But he insisted Yearsley Bridge – along with a similar centre for physically disabled adults just across the road, which is also closing down – were not ideally suited to their current purpose.

He said by having a network of places where people could go, rather than one main location, many people would have shorter distances to travel to access care and activities.