CARERS have secured their first victory in a campaign to save an under-threat respite centre for disabled adults.
It came as members of Hampshire County Council's Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Committee all voted against a proposal to close Orchard Close on Hayling Island.
At a meeting on Monday they heard impassioned speeches from parents who take their children to the 13-bedroom site so they can get vital rest from full-time care.
And the deputations did not fall on deaf ears – as the committee united to recommend the council votes against the centre's closure on February 27.
Dave Humphries, whose 21-year-old stepson, Joe, has a severe global development delay, addressed councillors on behalf of the pressure group Save Orchard Close.
After the day’s verdict returned, the 47-year-old from Waterlooville said: ‘This is a fantastic outcome and whilst I’m absolutely delighted we are not out of the woods yet.
‘Councillor [Liz] Fairhurst can still make a decision to close it, however, I would suggest to now do so would now be a complete travesty – making a mockery of the county council's own democratic process.'
As previously reported 96.4 per cent of 479 respondents objected to the closure of Orchard Close in a public consultation held by the county council.
Sally Eshraghi, a representative for local carers, said it was ‘unheard of' for councillors to vote against motions like the one put forward on Monday.
In a statement set to be delivered to social care boss Cllr Liz Fairhurst as she decides Orchard Close’s fate on February 27, the adult social care scrutiny committee said: ‘The committee are unconvinced that closure is the best way forward for Orchard Close nor that alternative provision is adequate for the users going forward.
‘Orchard Close is a too highly valued, unique, tranquil, high-quality facility and service to be lost.
‘The committee asks the portfolio holder for Hampshire County Council to look for other ways to make overall savings, or alternative ways to fund Orchard Close, and to strongly lobby government for extra funding for Hampshire Adult Social Care.’
The proposal to close Orchard Close was put forward by adult social care director Graham Allen after it went out to public consultation.
It was announced in 2017 the council would try to save as much as £480m over three years in a bid to balance its books amid pressure from central government.