Disabled lifeline to close

The Pines Mayfield Road, Kitt Green
The Pines Mayfield Road, Kitt Green

A HOSTEL for Wigan disabled people is to shut.

The Pines in Kitt Green – which is home to 24 people with learning difficulties and also has five respite places – will now be emptied within months and residents found alternative accommodation.

Council chiefs said this week that the decision wasn’t driven by Government cuts but the poor structural condition of the building in Mayfield Road.

But the decision has been strongly attacked by the leader of the opposition who has been contacted by a fearful man whose brother is a “very happy and settled” long-term resident in the residential centre.

Coun Gary Wilkes has also criticised the authority for the “complete lack of consultation” over the move.

Council head of community services Julie Jeffers said The Pines was old and expensive to run and maintain as well as being urgently in need of costly repairs.

The council will now be arranging meetings for residents and their relations.

And the authority has promised to talk to each individually to ensure that the best arrangements are put in place for the move.

Ms Jeffers said: “Closure of The Pines is not purely about cuts, but about providing a more suitable alternative.

“We believe there are better ways of providing accommodation and support which is more tailored to meet people’s specific needs.

“We have previously supported people to successfully move into much more inclusive community environments. The authority are about to commence consultation regarding moves into various settings; everyone will have a full assessment of their needs and this will be taken into account when helping people move to their new homes.

“We will try to make sure that friendship groups, which we recognise are of great importance, are maintained.”

Residents’ families were informed of the closure proposal by letter earlier this month and a meeting was held with them last week.

Coun Wilkes was told about the decision by a worried constituent whose brother has been a long term resident.

He has approached management directly about the situation but claims they refused to discuss the future of the hostel with him.

Coun Wilkes said: “I have been approached by a gentlemen who is very concerned about the future of his brother in The Pines who has learning difficulties.

“He lives there full time, has done so for many years and the people that live there with him also form part of an extended family from who he gets a lot of support.

“Breaking up this unit and spreading these people around the area in other homes will be causing uncertainty and concern for some of the most vulnerable people in our community and is just not on, cuts or no cuts.”

“This decision has either gone through and nobody noticed or the decision has only just been taken.

“Either way there are no members of the official opposition who knew anything about this before I was approached by the gentleman in my ward the other day.”

He is now asking for a statement from the council which asks who authorised the closure and why haven’t councillors been informed of the proposal in advance so that they could have been part of any consultation, which is “surely part of our legitimate duties” as councillors.

Coun Wilkes added: “This has been a real shock to me and as far as I am concerned the council must tread very, very carefully indeed.”