Carers concern over plans to transfer adult short break services from Beaconsfield to Aylesbury

Bucks County Council offices
Bucks County Council offices

Carers say they have not been fully briefed on plans to transfer adult short break services from Seeleys House in Beaconsfield to the Aylesbury Opportunities Centre.

According to a council report, the Aylesbury Opportunities Centre will close for a year while a partial rebuild takes place.

The day service provided at the site on Thame Road South will then have to be reduced in order to make way for the transfer of the new residential service.

Bucks County Council's cabinet heard yesterday (Monday) how some carers claimed they have not been fully briefed on the plans to transfer the service from Seeleys House in Beaconsfield to Aylesbury.

Cabinet yesterday agreed to hold a six-week consultation with carers and service users starting next week to discuss the plans.

The potential sale of Seeleys House will make the council £4.5 million - however this money will be put in the council’s general funding pot which can be allocated to any service – prompting some concerned carers to ask why the money will not go back into short breaks.

Councillor for Ryemead and Micklefield Julia Wassell said: “I have had a number of complaints over the weekend from parents who use the Seeleys House facility and they were seen [by council officers] on December 20 and they didn’t understand some of the explanations that were given.

“Their concerns are about the transfer to Aylesbury with the short break service.

"They are concerned about the funding, that there is a £4.5 million saving being made that is going into general reserves.

“They are concerned about original monies that were given to Seeleys House via charitable sources and they are concerned about the closure of the Aylesbury Opportunities Centre in part.”

The county council is currently working to slash £524,000 from its direct care and support services budget by the end of the year amid “huge financial pressures”.

However council leader Martin Tett said money made from the sale of assets from any service is put into a general pot of cash, then allocated where it is most needed.

Addressing Cllr Wassell he said: “That means we can look across all services where priorities are.

“Otherwise you could have one service you don’t think is a priority that sells a site, keeps the money and it means we then don’t have the money to invest in children’s services, adult social care, or potentially mental health because that money is ring-fenced by a particular service.”

Cabinet member for health and wellbeing at the county council Lin Hazell said the service cannot continue the way it is after receiving a string of poor inspection reports since 2016 - it was rated inadequate in 2016 and requires improvement in 2017 and 2018.

She said: “We have got to face the fact we have got to modernise the service.

"We cannot continue like this, we are getting poor CQC reports from Seeleys, and that is not good for the service users.

"That’s what we have to think about.”

Cllr Hazell added the council is working to engage with everyone affected by the changes, however she admitted: “there are some people we do miss”.

Cabinet member for resources John Chilver said he was not aware Seeleys House had originally been funded by donations, and agreed to look into the issue.

The cabinet also agreed to consult on running the service together with Bucks Clinical Commissioning Group to “help provide safe, quality care for those with only the most complex needs”.