Council to ignore petition demanding Isabel Blackman centre be saved

A campaign by local people to halt the closure of the Isabel Blackman centre in Hastings Old Town has failed.

And East Sussex County Council (ESCC) appears to be discarding a petition signed by more than 1,500 local people asking for the council to reconsider its decision.

A statement issued by ESCC today said: “As there have been no changes to the circumstances since the Cabinet decision, and given the length of time since the decision was formally taken, it has been decided that the petition opposing the centre’s closure will not be the subject of a report to the lead member.”

In October Councillor Tania Charman handed over the petition with more than 1,500 signatures to ESCC Chairman Peter Pragnell.

Announcing the news that the petition had failed Old Hastings councillor James Bacon said yesterday: “It is with deep sadness that I have to announce that a disappointing response has been received from ESCC after handing in the recent petition to stop the closure of the Isabel Blackman Centre.

“ESCC has refused to listen to the residents who signed the petition and will therefore go ahead with the closure of this day-care centre and service which so many elderly and vulnerable people rely on.

“We still do not know the details of the alternative location or service which will apparently be provided but I cannot see this being a like-for-like service.”

Councillor Tania Charman whose ESCC ward includes the centre branded the decision ‘undemocratic,’ she said: “I do not think this was considered properly and with transparency. We were refused information by officers and lead members that we requested. It’s truly undemocratic.”

Mr Bacon described the decision as, “a very sad day democracy, the Old Town and for the elderly in Hastings.”

He said: “Your Labour and Old Hastings team will be working with the community to see how this asset can still be at the heart of the Old Town community, and we will pressure ESCC to ensure they provide these same services elsewhere.

An ESCC spokesman said this afternoon: “The decision to recommission the services provided at the Isabel Blackman Centre in the independent sector was taken by Cabinet in June, with consideration given to all feedback from an eight–week public consultation and a series of meetings with service users.

“The decision taken will enable the council to deliver the same level of care to those attending the centre in a more cost effective way, and has helped avoid cuts elsewhere in services for vulnerable, older people.”


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