Mum’s plea to keep Eden Park unit open

Bill Seveney (Cupar Rotary Club), Councillor Tim Brett
Bill Seveney (Cupar Rotary Club), Councillor Tim Brett

THE mum behind a petition to save a children’s respite centre in Cupar has made her case in an impassioned address to the town’s community council.

Kirsty Jackson told members that it would be “devastating” if Fife Council presses ahead with plans to close the Eden Park residential unit in a bid to save cash.

Eden Park children's respite centre, Cupar.

Eden Park children's respite centre, Cupar.

Mrs Jackson, whose autistic son uses the centre, said: “It all keeps coming back to finance, but what no one seems to be considering is the 14 families who use the facility — 14 families who will have their support network taken away and 14 children who will be affected.

“There is the possibility that if the facility closes, a couple of children might have to be taken into care because their families won’t be able to cope without the respite Eden Park provides.

“Respite at Eden Park gives our son the chance to interact with other children who understand.

“It’s a safe haven for them and the staff are like family — and it takes a long time to build that up.

“We feel like we’ve just got to the top of the mountain and we’re being pushed off again.”

Several members offered their support to Mrs Jackson’s campaign, blasting the lack of consultation with parents and the lack of alternatives offered by the council.

They also criticised the council’s plan to meet with parents individually and resolved to invite Councillor Tim Brett, chair of the social work committee, and department chief Stephen Moore to address the community council ahead of speaking to parents.

Cupar councillor Margaret Kennedy, who attended the community council meeting, said a “divide and rule” scenario could unfold if parents are spoken to individually by council officials.

Fellow Cupar councillor Bryan Poole has again written to Councillor Brett and Mr Moore asking them to meet with parents collectively.

In response, Dougie Dunlop, head of children and families service, said: “We have chosen to engage with the families individually rather than at group meetings because the children involved are individuals with very specific and varying needs and they need an individual response to their circumstances.

“It is also important this can be done in a confidential way and that every parent is given the time and space to ask questions about the current situation if they wish to do so.

“We have explained to parents that for the time being the service will continue at Eden Park, the review will take place over the summer and we are totally committed to meeting the needs of their children both now and in the future.

“They will not be left without an appropriate service.”