Families demand Fife Council secures Kirkcaldy's St Clair Centre's future

Families are launching a campaign to safeguard Kirkcaldy's St Clair Centre for people with learning and physical disabilities.

Thursday, 9th June 2016, 8:30 am
Updated Monday, 13th June 2016, 12:47 pm
St Clair Centre

The move comes amid parents’ concerns that Fife Council is covertly trying to shut the building’s doors.

Marlene Hurles, a Kirkcaldy parent said: “We are very concerned about what’s happening. They are depleting the service to let the numbers run down, so they can say eventually that the building is surplus to requirements.

”They know we know that but they keep denying it.”

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A month ago, a group comprising over 20 parents met to discuss centre plans to transport service users directly by car to and from their homes to community-based activities.

Ironically, while service users were being discouraged from attending the St Clair Centre, the building was used for staff training purposes and hired by other community groups at the weekend.

“Meanwhile, while St Clair rooms lie empty in the week Fife Council hires other community halls at £16 an hour,” said Marlene.

“That’s taxpayers’ money!”

The purpose-built centre was a “safe stimulating environment for service users where staff were committed to their wellbeing,” commented Brian Peachey, a parent from Kettlehill.

In addition, regular centre hours provided vital respite for families.

He said: “Parents need that help; they need that support; to put a greater strain on them is not appropriate and to do it in such a cavalier manner.

“I’m starting to feel that the service users are being herded around like cattle.

“We want them to go out for trips but want them to have a base where they can meet their friends and learn new skills.”

In response, Fife Council said service users found centre-only activities “limiting” but denied there were plans to close it and claimed there was an “ongoing open and honest dialogue” with families.

Fife Council also confirmed Central Fife Community Support Service currently supported 128 service users but since “the role of the St Clair Centre had changed over the last 10 years” providing previous numbers would “not reflect the activity provided as an accurate comparison.”

People still received the same number of hours of support, but in a different way.

Ian Wilson, aervice manager said: “The day care service went through a process of consultation and modernisation back in 2012 .

“Parents were fully involved in that consultation.”

He added: “As part of the ongoing modernisation of the service, we’re currently consulting with parents about flexible transport arrangements.”

Campaigners intend to organise a public meeting to openly discuss their concerns (which inculde a reduction in buses at the centre) - and will be inviting representatives from Fife Council to attend.

Other families are invited to get in touch for more information - either through Marlene Hurles on 07905887419 or [email protected] or by calling Brian Peachey on 07581813641.