Legal bid to stop Doncaster day centre closures reaches High Court

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Campaigners have sent legal documents to the country’s top judges in a last ditch attempt to stop three day centres from closing in Doncaster.

Lawyers acting on behalf of the Caregate action group are challenging Doncaster Council’s decision to close Conisbrough, Cedar and Thorne Social Education Centres.

Sheffield-based firm Irwin Mitchell submitted evidence files to the High Court today, Monday, calling for a judicial review into the decision.

The documents outline the devastating effect shutting the three facilities, which provides daytime activities for disabled people, will have on communities.

Judges are expected to decide within the next few weeks if there is a case to be heard. A court date would then be listed for the hearing at the High Court in London.

Solicitor Katy Cowans, who is handling the case, said: “Vulnerable people such as the elderly and disabled are facing severe cuts to their services all across the country and this is having a massive impact on their lives.

“The cuts to the social education centres in Doncaster are the latest to come under scrutiny and we have heard from many families about the negative affect that the council’s decision will have.”

Len Murden, whose 35-year-old son Carl attends Conisbrough Social Education Centre, said the closure would be devastating.

The 70-year-old, of Madingley Close, Balby, said: “My son has Down’s Syndrome, autism and epilepsy, and the centre is a lifeline for us.”

The council decided to shut the centres, along with Askarne Day Centre, and seven council-run care homes to meet £109m Government-enforced budget cuts, despite a 25, 000 name petition against the move. The decision was called in but mayor Ros Jones’ authority voted to stick by the decision at a meeting in July.

Irwin Mitchell has also been in discussions to push ahead with a legal fight to stop the council’s decision to close care homes in Rossington, Stainforth, Skellow, Armthorpe, Conisbrough, Balby and Cantley.

But a spokesman said this challenge was “on hold” for the moment after it was revealed the authority is in discussions with a charity to run the under-threat homes.

Mayor Jones has previously made assurances residents will be offered alternative care. Dave Hamilton, director of adults, health and wellbeing, said the council will “respond accordingly within the legal timeframe.”