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We'll create our own centre' say disability group

PUBLISHED: 16:57 27 May 2009 | UPDATED: 10:43 23 August 2010

MEMBERS of a disability group slammed a cabinet member who failed to attend a make or break meeting claiming he has let them all down . North Kent Disabled Foundation (NKDF) met last Wednesday to discuss concerns about services and are angry that the ca

MEMBERS of a disability group slammed a cabinet member who failed to attend a make or break meeting claiming he has 'let them all down'.

North Kent Disabled Foundation (NKDF) met last Wednesday to discuss concerns about services and are angry that the cabinet member for adult social services, Graham Gibbens, did not attend.

They claim the meeting was a last ditch attempt to get KCC to address issues and it failed - so they will now set up a charity and create their own centre.

Member Karen Wright, who is blind, said: "It was very disappointing that they didn't turn up because they have got a lot to answer for."

Last October, Dartford's popular Queen Elizabeth Foundation (QEF) centre at the Brent Dartford, was replaced by three Active Life centres across north Kent.

As revealed in the Reporter last week, members are angry with owner Kent County Council (KCC) as they say the original service is greatly reduced.

Mrs Wright, of Munford Drive, Swanscombe, said: "They way they have dealt with it is shoddy. They have not thought about disabled people because they cannot begin to understand what disabled people need."

The 48-year-old said no-one has shown her around the centres, so she cannot walk unaided and she cannot access the internet or use her email account easily.

Last Saturday NKDF, which was set up by dissatisfied members last October, reached the £5,000 needed to register as a charity so they can start their own centre.

Nearly 100 people, including residents, businessmen and activists, turned out at the meeting to discuss facilities.

Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Dartford, James Willis, who has backed NKDF's fight for improved services, said: "After the loss of the service in the north Kent area it is superb to see the local population has stuck together to in defiance of the uncreative way KCC has acted."

A KCC spokesperson said: "It was never the intention to provide like-for-like services after the resource centre stopped being used and we never said that this would happen.

"We said that no one who was at the resource centre would be denied a service and that social networking opportunities would be available for everyone, together with some art, craft and jewellery opportunities.

"For all other activities, it was made clear that KCC would help people to look for, and get involved with, the activities they chose."

elizabeth.thornton@archant.co.uk

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