Disabled centre closed by council is re-opened

A disabled care centre closed by Glasgow City Council has re-opened because of the dire condition of the makeshift facilities intended to replace it.

The Evening Times revealed last month that the Fernan Street Centre in Shettleston – the only place in the city that offered day care to the disabled – was to close.

Campaigners trying to save it handed in a petition signed by 1500 people to Glasgow City Chambers but the closure went ahead.

However, since it shut those who had been using it have been forced to attend clinics set up in under-equipped church halls without specialised facilities.

One hall, in nearby Killin Street, does not have a ramp to allow disabled people easier access to get into the building.

When a busload of people arrived there on Thursday, they had to be driven back to the Fernan Street Centre, which was hastily reopened to accommodate them.

Christine Taggart, 54, has a sister who has spina bifida. Her sister was among those told to attend the Killin Street hall.

She said: “As a family we feel helpless and betrayed. These facilities were like stepping back a century. My sister has been made extremely anxious by the changes.”

Mrs Taggart’s sister, who does not want us to print her name, was told she would have to make her own way to Killin Street. This will cost her up to £120 a month because she needs to take taxis.

The first time she turned up, there was no-one at the hall, yet three taxis with other disabled people were waiting.

A worker eventually turned up and took people into a “dark, musty” room. There were no disabled toilet facilities.

Mrs Taggart said the lack of amenities was in stark contrast to the excellent facilities in the Fernan Street Centre.

She added: “As a family we feel this is no more than a cost cutting exercise, with real thought to providing alternative provision.”

A council source told the Evening Times that some people in high up roles in social services questioned the plan to close the Fernan Street Centre.

The source said: “Senior people in social services know this plan is nuts. The centre is perfectly useable if there was a will to do so. The council does not want to take responsibility for individuals.”

There is a campaign under way to turn Fernan into a co-operative run by the people who use it. It is feared that unless the centre is reopened, it will fall into dereliction.

Frank McAveety, MSP for Shettleston, has been helping the campaign. He said: “We were given assurances that peoples’ needs would be met, but the alternatives offered by social work are not acceptable. This way this woman has been treated is shocking.”

The council admitted the mistake and a spokesman added: “There was a mix-up over whether the new venue had a ramp for disabled access. This meant the hall intended for long term use was unavailable on the day in question and a temporary solution had to be found in another space.

“We are sorry for any inconvenience caused.

“Fernan St has been re-opened on a short-term basis to ensure the group’s activities can continue in the meantime.”