Any threat to close day care centres won’t go ahead without public consultation by Tower Hamlets Council following a heated debate at its cabinet.
That’s the assurance from the town hall after opposition councillor Rabina Khan challenged the closure plans in a confrontation with the deputy mayor for adult services.
“I don’t believe carers have been listened to properly,” she insisted. “These plans deal with assessing the impact on equality to check if any group like the disabled may suffer negatively by closing the centres.”
The council received a petition after hundreds of disabled had been warned in letters from the town hall that their centres may not reopen after the Covid lockdown.
The moves result from the Covid-19 crisis, the council has since pointed out.
It had to close the day centres and change the way people using them were being helped.
The authority said in a statement to the East London Advertiser: “We need to look at how day support can operate in future. We will continue day support options but are proposing that less of these are centres based in specific buildings.”
The centres under threat are the Riverside at Jack Dash House on the Isle of Dogs, a centre for brain injury recovery in Stepney Way and a care centre at Pritchard’s Row in Bethnal Green.
Care worker Manuel Ghobo had told the Advertiser before the cabinet meeting: “The woman I look after who’s 92 is breaking down over the closures. I had 20 calls from her. She was gutted by the letter she got.”
Ex-security worker Alan Orpwood, now 72, became a full-time carer for his disabled wife before damaging his spine in an accident leaving him disabled himself.
His wife Anne, 63, said: “We asked the council when our centre would reopen and were told they’re closing it. It’s Alan’s lifeline.”
Jessica Cupit turns 93 at Christmas and has been stuck at home isolated while her Pritchard’s Row centre has been shut through Covid.
Her daughter Christine Scotton, 71, said: “It’s a bit of a blow if it’s not reopening. It was Mum’s only outing.”
An equality assessment of the closures could show “a disproportionately negative impact” for people with “protected characteristics” under the Equality Act, Cllr Khan told the cabinet.
The plans were recommended to the cabinet to be suspended until thorough assessment of its impact was carried out. Meanwhile, consultations are planned during November to find alternatives for those affected.
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