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Council could axe disability centre.

Byline: MIKE BLACKBURN

A CENTRE for adults with learning disabilities in Billingham could close under a shake-up of services in Stockton.

Rievaulx Resource Centre is a day service which provides support, training and employment for up to 60 adults with learning difficulties.

But Stockton Council says the centre, based in an old school on Rievaulx Avenue, was "never designed" for that kind of use and is "not fit for purpose".

Instead the authority wants to develop daytime activities to "better meet individuals'' needs", saying many users would prefer more activities outside the building.

But the proposals - part of a borough-wide Efficiency, Improvement and Transformation (EIT) review of learning disability services - have met with anger from some families.

One parent of a student who attends the Rievaulx centre, who wanted to remain anonymous, said she was shocked to hear about the proposals.

"The centre is the largest in the area," she said. "It is a disgrace that a community resource is going to be lost.

"The centre belongs to the students who have gone there.

"Some people have been enjoying going there for over ten years."

Councillor Jim Beall, Stockton Council''s Cabinet member for adult services and health, said: As yet, the only decision we have made is to carry out further consultation on the proposals which have resulted from the review to date and this includes the future of Rievaulx.

It''s all about moving away from a 'one size fits all'' service to focusing more in individual needs with a greater choice of activities at more flexible times, which could be outside the current Monday to Friday 9-5 service.

Services are already being developed which allow people with learning disabilities to carry out more activities in their local communities."

Cllr Beall added: Rievaulx is based in an old school which was never designed for this type of use. Its large spaces don''t lend themselves to quiet activities and many users have said they would prefer more activities outside the building.

Where people require a building based service, we''ll work closely with them to meet their requirements in the best available facilities.

A spokesperson for Community Integrated Care (CIC), the charity that operates the Rievaulx centre said: "We are immensely proud of the Rievaulx and the support it offers, but understand that services always need to develop to meet changing needs.

"We hope that Stockton Council's EIT review will ultimately be a positive step for people supported at the Rievaulx, offering them a more flexible and fulfilling service."

A 12-week public consultation has been launched on the future delivery of learning disability services in Stockton, involving service users, carers and families, stakeholders and the wider public. A final report will go before Stockton's Cabinet in the autumn.

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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Jun 30, 2012
Words:464
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