A RESPITE unit for some of the county’s most vulnerable children will close to allow for a £1 million refurbishment of another facility.

Worcestershire County Council’s cabinet backed plans by health bosses to close Ludlow Road, a respite care unit in Kidderminster, which offers short overnight breaks, and to refurbish Osborne Court in Malvern.

Ludlow Road, which was used by families across the county, was classed as neither “operationally viable or cost-effective” by Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust.

Ofsted inspectors said the facility should be a four-bed self-contained unit which led the health trust to say it would no longer be value for money. The health trust plans to improve facilities at Osbourne Court in Malvern by adding four more children’s beds - two of which would be commissioned by the county council. The future of the Kidderminster care unit had been in the balance for a number of years.

Ludlow Road was threatened with closure in 2018 but following a long and hard-fought campaign by parents, carers and families, the county council decided to keep the respite unit open until at least April 2019.

Tina Southall, whose 16-year-old daughter Dalcie had used Ludlow Road for six years, said it felt like she'd had to fight at every turn.

She said: “Ask yourselves, are you doing the right thing or are you just solving some problems at the moment and creating another one further down the line?”

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Tracey Rochelle, who campaigned against the closure of Ludlow Road, had strong words for councillors.

She said councillors were fed inaccurate information and were more than happy to close Ludlow Road because “it made good business sense and could save the council some money.” She said the running costs of Ludlow Road put forward as justification for its closure seemed as though they had been “plucked out of thin air.”

Referring to the long fight to save the unit, she said: “Ludlow Road isn’t open today because you felt sorry for the parents, it’s not open today because bringing Dalcie in here tugged at your heart strings. Ludlow Road has remained open because if you voted to close it you would have been unable to uphold your basic legal requirements. We were willing to take you to court and we would have won.”

Councillor Fran Oborski, chairman of the council’s children and families scrutiny panel, agreed early information during the first consultation on the closure of Ludlow Road was “poor” and “muddled.”

She said health bosses had assured her services would fit the needs of the children and was “content” closing Ludlow Road was the right decision.