Wrexham dad’s anger over closure of special needs centre

THE father of a 15-year-old boy with Down’s Syndrome says it is a disgrace that a centre for young people with learning difficulties in Wrexham is to close.

After the Evening Leader revealed that the respite centre on Wrexham’s Finney Close is to shut our website was inundated with comments from people for whom the facility has proved vital.

David Yates, of Little Acton, has contacted us to add his voice to the stream of protest, branding the decision to close the centre “appalling”.

Mr Yates’ son, 15-year-old Liam, has Down’s Syndrome and has been going to the centre for a number of hours every week in the summer holidays for a number of years.

“They provide an excellent service and Liam is always well cared for when he goes there,” he said.

“I think it is a disgrace that Finney Close is closing down. I have heard nothing about this officially and don’t know what is going to be happening.”

In our original report on Finney Close’s closure, Marie LeBacq, chief safeguarding and support officer for Wrexham Council, explained the decision by saying: “The authority can confirm that Finney Close is closing. Finney was used as a base for support workers to work with both disabled and non-disabled young people.

“Respite services for children with autism alongside respite for other children with complex disabilities is provided through our facility at Tapley Avenue which is well used.

“The plan is that the support workers will be able to make use of the range of recently developed and refurbished community facilities that the council owns.”

Chris Rees, chairman of the National Autistic Society’s Wrexham branch, has said that members are up in arms over moves to shut the base down.

He said: “There will be a great deal of anguish felt by parents and children alike if they no longer have use of that building.”

A number of visitors to the Evening Leader’s website have hit out at the move.

One anonymous poster wrote: “I am a mum with a 10-year-old autistic son. We have never had any help so that we can have a break.

“We had contacted social services a few weeks ago. They told us that our son would have loved Finney Close, but it’s closing.

“Great to have the offer of non-existent services. Just because my child cannot speak, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist.

“Autism affects the whole family, not just the child with the diagnosis.”

ProudtobeWelsh wrote: “As the father of two autistic children, when I heard that they were closing Finney Close it came as no surprise to me.

Wrexham Council has been planning this closure for quite a while.

“For the autistic children who used it, this was somewhere they could feel at ease in familiar surroundings. Autistic children do not like change.”

A Concerned Person added: “It’s a lifeline to many families and is keeping a lot of our children in need in Wrexham out of the care system.”

Alestes Carrow, of Gwersyllt, said: “I don’t know about people moaning about the UK’s budget and Westminster MPs’ expenses, when the spending of local councils seems to be like playing archery blindfolded.

“On the whole, Wrexham is one of the better councils of Wales. I currently live part time in Cardiff and have to say some of Wrexham’s services are far superior to Cardiff City Council’s.

“But it does seem to be a bit of a postcode lottery, although I see the Assembly budget as the biggest issue here.

“Is the current unitary authority system really working as it was first planned?

“After all it was designed in a time with no National Assembly and in the middle of an economic heyday.

“Yes they were designed to be economic, but do they actually save money?

“Yes we went from 45 councils to 22 in Wales, but I feel many certain issues get easily overlooked.”

Anthony Cahill of Wrexham wrote: “It seems that cutbacks are the way forward for councils.

“But it may be cut now and regret later.

“Just as the selling off of council homes has left a long waiting list I wonder how much it will cost to establish these facilities in the future when the population of Wrexham grows, which is the council’s stated aim. Short sighted and without any forward thinking.”