Cupar respite centre axed – but staff weren’t told

Eden Park children's respite centre, Cupar.
Eden Park children's respite centre, Cupar.
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FIFE Council has admitted making a blunder after staff at a children’s respite centre found out their jobs were in jeopardy through the Fife Herald.

It was announced in the SNP/Liberal Democrat administration’s budget last Thursday that the Eden Park residential unit in Cupar would be closing to save the council money.

But care workers were shocked when they heard the news via the Fife Herald the following day.

Dougie Dunlop, Fife Council’s head of children and families services, said: “As part of the budget setting process, the social work service puts forward suggestions for savings for councillors to consider.

“However, these are simply ideas until the administration adopts them as part of their budget proposal and they are agreed by full council.

“Keeping staff informed is important, but on this occasion we acknowledge that the decisions made at full council last week should have reached staff sooner.

“We will continue to communicate with staff as we look at the future options for delivering respite care.”

Staff at Eden Park work part-time, amounting to 3.64 full-time equivalent posts.

But Mr Dunlop said it was too early to say whether they would lose their jobs as a result of the closure.

He told the Fife Herald: “It is still early days and until we have explored the different options for providing respite care we won’t know what the staffing implications are.

“What we can say though in more general terms is that we are committed to maintaining front line posts and have a policy of redeployment where possible.”

Eden Park caters for up to 18 young people aged between four and 19 with conditions ranging from autism and epilepsy to Tourette’s and ADHD.

They visit the centre at weekends in groups of two or three, giving their parents or other carers welcome time off.

The building, which sits behind North Eden House care home, also hosts a week-long residential break in the summer.

SNP/Lib Dem councillors voted to close Eden Park in a bid to save the local authority £100,000 over the next three years.

The centre will be replaced by a programme of home-based care from September.

But deputy council leader Elizabeth Riches insisted the closure would not have an adverse effect on the families who rely on it.

Councillor Riches said: “It’s the closure of the building, but not of the service.

“What we will be doing is delivering it differently.

“We’re trying to work with individual families to see what would work best for them.

“For some, that will be supporting them in looking after their children at home.”

Mr Dunlop added: “Respite care is a vital support for families of children with a disability and we are committed to continuing to provide a service to those who need it.

“While Eden Park has been a valuable resource to the small number of families that use the service, we have to consider whether the service can be provided in another way that both meets the needs of children with a disability and their families and which gives value for money.

“Over the next few months we will be looking at different options for delivering care with families so that there is a range of services from residential care placements to home-based respite from which they can choose.”