We’ll fight on to save centres

Anger: Derek and Sue Hamer with their son Matthew and (inset) Debra Welch, chairman of the Friends of The Bungalow

Anger: Derek and Sue Hamer with their son Matthew and (inset) Debra Welch, chairman of the Friends of The Bungalow

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Desperate families have vowed to continue their fight to save a host of under-threat respite care homes for severely disabled children in Lancashire despite losing a vital battle.

In unprecedented scenes, parents of disabled children were among around 50 protesters who were ejected from a crunch budget meeting at Preston’s County Hall last week, where councillors voted in £179m three-year spending cuts.

The decision means at least one of the county’s eight respite care homes will now close in the next 12 months and more could be axed later.

Details of which centres face the axe still have not been revealed.

But parents fighting the cuts say their battle is not over and they are demanding to know which centres will close. Derek Hamer, 47, who along with his wife Sue is a full-time carer to his 16-year-old son Matthew, said: “We will keep going. It was a blow to be completely ignored throughout the consultation but we will keep up the pressure.”

Mr Hamer says other parents fighting the closure of the centres were in “floods of tears” last week when the Tory-led council approved their massive spending cuts.

During the meeting, on Thursday at Preston’s County Hall, the protestors were ejected from the public gallery after repeated outbursts form some of the campaigners. The meeting was adjourned for approximately an hour after a fire alarm was pulled.

During heated exchanges, allegations were made accusing Coun Geoff Driver, leader of the council, of being involved in a spat with some of the protestors.

Mr Hamer and his wife were among those ejected. He said: “We were sickened by the way we were treated but we won’t give up our fight. These centres are too important to us.”

Council leader Coun Geoff Driver claims the closure of centres will not result in a reduction of services for affected families.