Parents break down in tears over closure of autism centre in Denbighshire|
YSGOL PLAS BRONYYFFRYN, Wales: Parents and child care staff broke down in tears on July 15 after it was announced an autism centre would close its doors less than a year after opening.
On July 15, members of Denbighshire’s cabinet voted six to three in favour of shutting council-run Hyfrydle after plunging thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ cash into it.
But the decision has sparked outrage among parents and politicians, with many blasting the council as “irresponsible.”
One woman said she felt her child’s education was now over.
Bosses added 11 more child care staff to the 14-strong workforce just two weeks before dropping the bombshell. But now their positions have been made redundant.
It is believed closure was being considered as long ago as February.
On July 15, one worker broke down in tears when she heard that Hyfrydle was to be closed. “How can the council do this? I am absolutely gutted,” she said. “I have a family, a mortgage and a holiday booked. I gave up a job with a steady and reliable income for this position and I am devastated. I just don’t understand why nobody stopped the council taking on more workers if the facility was having difficulties. They shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this. I’m heartbroken.”
Council bosses said they were investigating why more staff were employed shortly before the closure decision was taken.
Mum-of-four Susan Fleet was inconsolable and said she was terrified that her teenaged son, Elliott, would attempt suicide for the second time.
The Asperger’s syndrome sufferer was due to start living at the residential site near Ysgol Plas Brondyffryn in Denbigh on July 12, but at the last minute his placement was withdrawn.
Elliott, 16, has already been out of school since March last year, when he tried to throw himself off a railway bridge.
His Cheshire family have scoured the United Kingdom for a centre suited to his needs.
“I am angry, disappointed and devastated by this extremely foolish decision,” said Mrs Fleet. “There are still a lot of questions that have gone unanswered.
“I really hope there is an inquiry into this decision. I have no idea where Elliott is going to go and I really feel that his education is now over.”
Vale of Clwyd AM Ann Jones described the council’s treatment of staff, children and parents as “cruel.”
“This is a decision made in haste with a complete lack of consultation. It must be borne by six members who have chosen by their actions to hurt the most vulnerable in our society,” she said.
The decision could still be called in and debated by a scrutiny committee.
Interim corporate director for lifelong learning, Mohammed Mehmet, said closure was a “last resort” and said the facility was “not financially viable.”
But he added a formal consultation period would now begin.
“There were no prospects to suggest that the number of children at the centre would increase – only one child was from Denbighshire,” he said.
“Our priority now is to support families and help them look for alternative placements. We will redeploy staff wherever possible and will look into why more were taken on.”
(Source: Daily Post, July 16, 2008)