Campaigners lose bid to save respite centre for disabled children

Judge not satisfied with claims Brent Council acted unlawfully

The parents of seven disabled children have failed in their legal bid to stop the closure of a council-run respite centre.

Campaigners mounted a judicial review challenge of Brent Council’s decision to close its Short Breaks Unit, in Crawford Avenue, Wembley, which the parents claim will leave a gaping hole in the provision of respite care.

The unit is one of only two such centres run by the council which offers short-term respite care for disabled children.

The council’s decision was a result of having to make �104 million of cuts over four years.

There are plans to relocate both respite care units at the Village School but this wont be until 2012.

The parents were also offered temporary placements at Brent’s other respite care centre, but many said the centre lacked the “flexibility” they need.

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The lead claimant in the case was the mother of a “severely disabled 12-year-old boy” identified simply as ‘X’ - Mr Justice Stadlen told London’s High Court.

Her son suffers from water on the brain and requires a shunt to relieve pressure on his brain.

X’s mother lives in relatively cramped accommodation and feels that Crawford Avenue, which has a large garden and sensory room, provides the ideal environment for her son to “move around freely”.

The council rejected counter-proposals that Crawford Avenue should be kept open until the new “village school” is ready.

However, Mr Justice Stadlen rejected arguments that the council failed to make provision for “emergency respite care”, adding that there was nothing “irrational” about its approach.

“I am not satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the claimant has established that the council acted unlawfully in its decision to close Crawford Avenue prematurely,” the judge concluded.