Save our centre
PUBLISHED: 10:35 26 June 2008 | UPDATED: 09:53 23 August 2010
DISABLED protesters gathered outside County Hall to campaign against the closure of a vital resource centre for a second time. Angry users of the Queen Elizabeth Foundation Resource Centre, The Brent, Dartford, campaigned in Maidstone claiming the county
DISABLED protesters gathered outside County Hall to campaign against the closure of a vital resource centre for a second time.
Angry users of the Queen Elizabeth Foundation Resource Centre, The Brent, Dartford, campaigned in Maidstone claiming the county council has failed to offer suitable alternatives.
They were joined by relatives and carers outside Kent County Council's headquarters last Thursday.
The unique Dartford centre is to be axed in September and alternatives suggested, including the Riverside Centre, Gravesend, and Discovery Centre, Swanscombe, have been deemed inadequate with poor wheelchair access by those who attend.
Peter Wright, 52, travels from his home in Appleby Close, Rochester to use the service.
He said: "We have looked at the proposed sites and in one of them corridors are too narrow for two wheelchairs to pass through, in another one the room is on the second-floor. They just don't have what you expect to have in a centre for disabled people."
Many of the centre's 127 members are upset that the activities offered by the centre such as the wood working room and fully-equipped gym may be replaced with drop-in centres with little or no facilities.
Bill Chance, 64, of Claremont Road, Hextable, used the wood working facilities as a form of rehabilitation after suffering a stroke in 2004.
He said: "I fell like there will be nothing for me without the centre. They haven't got anything in situ for us to use. There will be nothing for us to do."
The action comes six months after the centre's members handed a petition containing over 5,000 signatures to KCC in protest at the closure during a protest outside County Hall.
Kevin Lynes, KCC Cabinet Member for Kent Adult Social Services, said: "People are naturally apprehensive about change and the period surrounding it can be an emotional time. I also know that KCC officers are working very hard on the changes being made to day opportunities in North West Kent.
"With regard to the new venues being considered all will conform to national accessibility standards and where there are concerns about accessibility, work will be done to reflect those concerns.