Quietly, in the run up to Christmas, the Tory County Council set about the proposed closure of one of the most important NHS short breaks respite centres in the County for young disabled people with specialist needs.

The NHS Ludlow Road facility in Kidderminster, allows disabled children’s carer parents the opportunity to take a break from providing care. Such breaks are critical when you’re a parent with a disabled young person, it allows you to recharge your batteries. Their value cannot be understated, yet the Tories want to close it.

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Stephen Brown, Wyre Forest Labour said “Do the Tories care about this closure? Of course not. Once again we see the heartless, ruthless side of Tory Councillors. I’ll bet that not a single Tory Councillor in Wyre Forest stands up for this facility, they only know how to asset strip. Our local Tories have been and are more interested in holding multiple jobs at District, County, in the MP’s Office, and even in the Police Commissioners Office prolonging their own gravy train than protecting services. They are politically wedded to cuts as a form of self preservation and I’m naming Hart, Rogers, Desmond, Onslow, Campion, et al, as complicit in this continuing destruction of Wyre Forest services. I’m sure Mark Garnier MP will also play to form and disown it saying it is either a council or NHS issue. The man is a serial avoider of responsibility for what happens on his watch and continually lets down his constituents, so why should this issue be any different?”

The Council claim there will be a consultation with the client users of the service. Labour’s view is that in reality, it will be another meaningless exercise full of platitudes and false hope. The Cabinet Report itself states demand for such services is already outstripping supply, yet the Council in its reckless pursuit of savings will plough ahead regardless to save some £500,000. They probably see it as an easier service to cut because it is a council funded NHS facility rather than one of their own. It is a specialist service not easily replaced but that matters little to Tory wreckers.

Stephen Brown further commented “This is another example of our NHS being stripped away by Tory stealth. Our NHS is not safe in Tory hands, never has been, never will be. It’s death by a thousand cuts. The Tories, and as if to excuse what they are up, say in the Council Report that they’ve already spoken to users of the service, who apparently want more tailored solutions. No doubt the council will spin this and say they’ll look at it. I don’t think those carers who use this service should be so easily taken in by this though because such specialist services are not so easily replaced or replicated. The Tories have form in promising improvements from such cuts although the reality is quite the opposite. We’ve seen the same Tory lies with Mental Health Services. The truth is the Tories have been enthusiastically ripping the heart out of our Services, especially for the vulnerable and disabled, yet selling it as improvements since 2010 and can anyone honestly say that since then things have got better? No, of course not. Austerity is a political choice not a necessity. It’s why Labour will end austerity if elected to Government. Enough is enough.”

Leading the campaign, Ben Davies, Labour prospective candidate for the Aggborough & Spennells council ward in the May 2018 council elections, working alongside Vincent O’Callaghan, prospective candidate for the neighbouring Foley Park & Hoobrook ward, covering Ludlow Road, have pledged to work with local people, staff, and those using the services to campaign to see if it can be saved.

Ben recognises it is going to be an uphill struggle given the size of the current Tory majority but says “The news of a consultation for the Ludlow Road NHS with a view to closing it just to satisfy yet more Conservative cuts is, regrettably, a major threat to children and young people who require such services. The centre houses children between the ages of 3-18 years, children with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and complex health needs. Closing this would put young, vulnerable people in immediate danger as the centre gives important short break services, which, sadly, doesn’t seem too high up in the list of Tory priorities as they seek to further lacerate our local NHS. I will campaign on behalf of Labour with Vincent to try and ensure this local service remains open to those who need it and ask anyone wanting to join us in this campaign to contact us via the Wyre Forest Labour website or our Facebook page.”

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