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We’re treated like animals’

PUBLISHED: 14:35 05 November 2008 | UPDATED: 10:14 23 August 2010

Dartford
29-10-08
Temple Hill Community Centre
Former QEF members unhappy with their new facilities
l/r, Vic Cooke, William Chance, Danny O'Brien
trying to do their metal work on unsuitable tables

Dartford 29-10-08 Temple Hill Community Centre Former QEF members unhappy with their new facilities l/r, Vic Cooke, William Chance, Danny O'Brien trying to do their metal work on unsuitable tables

TREATED like cattle, shunted around like animals – this is how some of the community s most vulnerable people feel they have been treated. Disabled members of the now-closed Queen Elizabeth Foundation Centre, in Brent Way, Dartford, have accused Kent C

TREATED like cattle, shunted around like animals" - this is how some of the community's most vulnerable people feel they have been treated.

Disabled members of the now-closed Queen Elizabeth Foundation Centre, in Brent Way, Dartford, have accused Kent County Council bosses of presiding over a "disgraceful shambles".

Services have been transferred from the QEF Centre to three sites in Dartford, Gravesend and Swanley as part of the government's push for greater inclusiveness.

Spokesman for members, Kevin Best, 56, of Milton Road, Gravesend, said: "I'm disgusted at the way we have been treated, shunted around like animals."

Mr Best, who had a stroke in 2005 and suffers from paralysis in his left arm and leg, added: "People were rammed in Dartford adult education centre, which was far too small. One of the members couldn't use the computer suite because the wheelchair would not fit through the door. It's demeaning, an insult.

"We were told services at the QEF centre would continue to be provided in the community, like woodwork classes. That's absolute nonsense.

"The facility in Gravesend wasn't ready to accommodate us. KCC clearly had no clue about what space was needed. We had a gym used for physio before, there is nothing in place at the moment.

"The consultation was another shambles. They didn't consult us, they lectured to us how things were going to be. Now we're in this mess.

"Staff at the centres are working their socks off to try and sort out a shambles that was created higher up. If they had listened to what our needs were we could have avoided much of this."

Temple Hill Community Centre is being used as a stopgap for jewellery, craftwork, computing and other services.

Danny O'Brien, 63, from Culverstone, had to transfer from his electric wheelchair to a manual one because it could not fit in the tiny disabled toilet.

Sonia Mallion, 42, of Oliver Road, Swanley, has lobbied head of KCC Paul Carter, protested at Parliament and submitted a 5,000-signature petition against QEF's closure. She said: "We want a long-term sustainable service that is up to standard. QEF should not have shut until they had a suitable substitute in place."

A spokesman for KCC said: "We are very pleased with the numbers of people attending. Staff are in touch with users on a daily basis and taking action to iron out any issues.

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