Council U-turn saves Rushey Meadow

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TOWN Hall bosses in Sheffield have abandoned plans to close a children’s respite centre in the face of a massive public outcry.

Rushey Meadow residential respite home had been earmarked for closure as part of Sheffield Council’s bid to cut £80 million from its budget, The Star revealed last week.

The news sparked furious protests from parents and staff at the centre, which is used by 30 children aged between seven and 17.

Parents said the home, on Bannerdale Road, Carter Knowle, was an essential facility for families with disabled children and staff insisted the other two respite centres in the city were close to capacity.

Councillors initially said the closure would give carers wider choice through ‘personalised budgets’.

But last night, after a meeting with the affected families, the council’s Liberal Democrat leadership announced an unexpected U-turn and said they would save the centre from closure.

Coun Colin Ross, cabinet member for children’s services, insisted the decision was “never about saving money”.

He said: “The budget proposal was aimed at giving parents and carers of young people who attend Rushey Meadow a wider choice through personalised budgets.

“However all of those at the meeting said they would use any budget they received to pay for services at Rushey Meadow and would rather see that service continuing.

“This proposal was never driven by saving money and we always had an open mind because we knew it was a sensitive issue.

“After listening to the feedback I think the best possible solution would be to withdraw the proposed closure.

“I hope this shows that Liberal Democrat councillors within the Town Hall are being open, honest, and are genuinely ready to listen throughout this difficult budget setting process. If we can find a solution then we will pull out all the stops to deliver it.”