New Eric Gray ‘a step further ahead’
The proposal to build a new facility providing day services for adults with learning disabilities, autistic spectrum disorders and complex needs is being backed by councillors, following a committee meeting.
The council’s special social services committee was presented with options for future provision on Thursday.
In a packed and lengthy meeting various options were discussed – with a presentation by parent and carer members of a working group concerned with users’ needs. Speaking on behalf of working group members, Leslie Smith argued the best option was development of a purpose built facility, with a site at Seafield currently being set aside for this purpose.
The other options under consideration were:
To continue to use the current Eric Gray Centre at Kantersted and the additional support needs building at Gressy Loan – with significant repairs and upgrade work needed at the Eric Gray Centre.
Or to extend one of the existing facilities – to modify or extend existing buildings to meet projected needs, either the Eric Gray Centre or Gressy Loan, or potentially another building.
Mr Smith argued there would be reduced revenue costs in running a new building and maintaining it and it would be accessible to all tier groups and close to existing associated facilities. “The location [Seafield] makes it ideal for clients in wheelchairs and with mobility issues as they are able to go for walks in the town and to facilities in the town on foot fairly readily.
“This is a huge benefit for clients and carers. Dependency on transport is significantly reduced.”
During the meeting it was revealed the estimated capital cost of a purpose-built new centre would be £5.65 million.
If this was funded from borrowing it would result in an additional revenue cost with a “ballpark figure” of £367,000 per year for the next 25 years.
However members were told the cost of the new build was based on figures from 2008 and previous plans for a new centre.
Director of corporate services Christine Ferguson said there was a lack of details on the options being discussed.
She recommended that officers came back to the committee with more detailed work such as if re-housing users would be possible in relation to the options put forward, and how much it would cost, and funding packages regarding a new build.
He said after the meeting: “We are at that step further ahead now. I did ask for a report back by the end of March and we got the report today in front of us.
“Some detail was not there but that’s not down to any fault of the officers that’s probably purely lack of time.
“I think that we had a good presentation from the families today and we had a very good debate and questions in the chamber and the decision that we made I think was the correct decision.
“I do realise there’s still some work to be done and that will be done in due course.”
An additional report will be put before the social services committee prior to the recommendation being presented to the SIC executive committee. The final decision will rest with the full council.