Brent Council faces court action over plans to axe children’s centre

High Court judge paves the way for parents to seek a judicial review against closure

A judge has paved the way for a judicial review which could overturn the decision to close a centre for autistic children.

Brent Council wants to close down Crawford Avenue short break unit, in Crawford Avenue, Wembley, which specialises in caring for children suffering from autism.

Under the plans, 67 children who use the centre will be moved to another residential unit in Clement Close, Brondesbury.

But parents believe it is not adapted to the needs of autistic children because it currently caters for children with physical disabilities.

Campaigners took the case to the High Court last week where a judge gave permission to seek a judicial review.

Fitzroy Lee, whose daughter Kamaria, 17, has been going to the centre for the past 10 years, said: “We are taking this case to the High Court for Kamaria. We are doing this for our children.

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“If this centre closes there will be no respite centre for autistic children in the borough. This cost-cutting exercise will affect the most vulnerable.”

The council has insisted that the closure is not motivated by cutting costs even though the centre is rented by the authority from Barnardos for �32,250 a year.

The garden at Crawford Avenue was last year refitted with specialist sensory equipment, yet the council claims the building is not fit for purpose.

Mr Lee said: “When my daughter goes to Crawford she gets to use the specialist sensory equipment. She goes there every Friday after school. Autistic children don’t like their routine to be disrupted. The new centre will not be able to cater for children with challenging behaviour.”

But a council spokesman said: “Although the council is disappointed by the court’s decision to grant permission to seek a judicial review, we will robustly defend the claim. Crawford Avenue will stay open with the same level of service until that hearing.”

A hearing will take place at the Royal Courts of Justice on October 6.