Mother of disabled son hits out at ‘political’ campaign over future of Portsmouth Arts Lodge

Mark Lewis
Mark Lewis
General manager Dave Livingstone.

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THE mother of a man with severe physical disabilities has criticised civic leaders for their treatment of the most vulnerable people in Portsmouth.

Drayton resident Linda Carmichael, whose son Shaun Simpson suffers with cerebral palsy, has spoken out against the ‘political’ campaign to turn the Lodge Arts Centre in Victoria Park into a hub providing activities and work placements for those with learning and physical needs.

It’s very political, which is unfortunate. People seem to be missing the big picture, and thinking of themselves.

The Tories want to boot out the current tenants, Art and Soul Traders, to facilitate the move as part of an overhaul of the park.

But the move has been condemned by the Lib Dems and other critics who say similar work is already happening there and the way tenant Mark Lewis has been treated is unfair.

Meanwhile a fresh row has broken out on Twitter after a resident claimed to have overheard a conversation amongst Lib Dem members saying that to have a new cafe run by people with learning difficulties would be ‘setting it up to fail’.

Mrs Carmichael says the people most affected must come first.

And she questioned the council’s true intentions for the Lodge – particularly as care for the vulnerable has already been hit hard.

She said: ‘It’s very political, which is unfortunate. People seem to be missing the big picture, and thinking of themselves.

‘The day care service in Portsmouth is shocking, because of the cutbacks.

‘My son doesn’t get to do half of the work he used to do.

‘I haven’t heard much about the work that’s being planned for Victoria Park.

‘If creating a hub to help more people is what the council wants to do, then that would be a good thing.

‘There are a lot of young people who are good at art and doing all sorts of things.

‘But it all depends on how it’s done, and what the council will take away.’

Lib Dem councillor and Lodge supporter Lee Hunt is concerned what the long-term plan is. He said: ‘The trouble is, nobody believes what the Conservatives are saying.’

We are hugely suspicious.’