Autism and dementia centres set to close in Haringey

Popular day centres for adults with complex disabilities will now be shut down, as part of radical budget cuts voted through this week.

Chanting “shame on you” and brandishing placards, carers, residents and activists from the Hornsey Pensioners Action Group and Unison stood outside the civic centre before Tuesday’s cabinet meeting.

Birkbeck Road Day Centre in Hornsey and Always Day Centre near Muswell Hill for adults with learning disabilities are earmarked to be closed as part of sweeping changes to adult social care.

The Roundway Centre in Tottenham for adults with autism, learning disabilities and complex needs will be shut down, in spite of warnings from the National Autistic Society that it would be a “terrible loss.”

Older people with dementia may lose out when the Grange Day Centre in Tottenham finally closes.

The cuts, voted through unanimously by Haringey Council’s cabinet, are being spearheaded by Cllr Peter Morton, Haringey cabinet member for health and wellbeing.

He described how the council needed to put in place a “sustainable” alternative to allow for national cuts to the council budget and an ageing population in Haringey.

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As part of the changes, the Haven day centre in Tottenham which provides activities for adults who are socially isolated or have disabilities, will be closed.

Services will continue to be run from the premises, with a focus on supporting vulnerable adults to live in the community, rather than entering residential care.

There will be new and expanded day opportunities for adults with learning disabilities, including those with complex needs and autism, from the existing Ermine Road day centre in Tottenham.

At a heated meeting with heckles from the gallery, carers expressed concerns that councillors had not listened to the findings from the public consultation.

Asked whether they supported proposals to close Roundways, Birkbeck Road and Always day centres, for example, 89 per cent of respondents had said they strongly did not support the proposal.

Martin Hewitt from Save Autism Services Haringey, told cabinet members that they had not adequately planned for what will replace the day centres.

As the father of an autistic son, he described the suffering that autistic people go through when they undergo sudden change.

He was joined in his condemnation by Gordon Peters, chair of the Older People’s Reference Group, who said that the council was leaving itself open to crises.

Breaking ranks with the Labour council, Cllr Bull described how he could not support the changes which were “lacking evidence and planning.”

“This will have a devastating impact on the most vulnerable in our society,” he said.

The cabinet have vowed to engage with service users and carers as the changes go forward.