Disability support centres face the axe under council cash-saving review

Father James Walsh Centre, Hebburn
Father James Walsh Centre, Hebburn
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Two centres supporting people with learning disabilities could face the axe as the council looks to save cash.

The Gazette understands Father James Walsh Centre in Hebburn and Perth Green Base in Jarrow have both been highlighted alongside other venues which will come under review as part of cost-cutting measures.

Perth Green Base

Perth Green Base

The council have not confirmed or denied the centres are on the list, instead stressing it is “considering proposals” and “no final decisions have been made.”

The news comes within days of councillors awarding themselves a one per cent pay rise backdated to April, with an additional one per cent rise next year - despite people taking to social media to slam the decision.

Labour party sources say the decision will come as a “further kick in the teeth” for residents.

One source said: “They say the centres are going to be reviewed but we all know what that means. They will more than likely be closed. No one knows the timescale.

“After the council accepted a pay rise, now this. It just beggars belief. It’ll be devastating for the people who use the centres if they close.”

Lee Hughes

“We know we need to make savings but I don’t know why Father James Walsh Centre is being targeted. A lot of people will be affected.”

A source told the Gazette meetings have already taken place between local councillors and officers to determine what is happening.

Putting People First Coun Lee Hughes said: “After the council accepted a pay rise, now this. It just beggars belief. It’ll be devastating for the people who use the centres if they close.”

Coun Tracey Dixon, Lead Member for Independence and Well Being said: “We are about to enter into discussions with trade unions, staff and service users in the way services are delivered in South Tyneside to ensure they are meeting need and delivering best value for money.

“It is important to stress that we are considering proposals at this stage and no final decisions have been made. The people of South Tyneside will continue to receive the support they need where they are eligible for services, however, with less Government funding we must look at new and more innovative ways of supporting people.

“We continue to face Government cutbacks to our funding but this is not about reducing services, it is about sustaining them in a different and better way making best use of the funds we have. Relocation rather than closure. We will continue dialogue with all parties affected and update as we move through the process.”