Bristol City Council plans to axe five beds at the Bush residential unit for disabled children

Tim Lezard Europe, UK, Community, Unite,
Members of Unite's Bristol Area Community Branch campaigning against the reduction of beds at the Bush Residential Centre

Members of Unite’s Bristol Area Community Branch campaigning against the reduction of beds at the Bush Residential Centre

A petition signed by 2,500 Bristol residents has been presented to councillors urging them to reject plans to axe five beds at the Bush residential unit for disabled children.

The city’s independent mayor, George Ferguson, is pressing ahead with his plans to scrap the beds in a bid to save £350,000-a-year, despite widespread opposition, and the full council rejecting the mayor’s proposals in February.

The campaign has been spearheaded by the Bristol community branch of Unite, the country’s largest union, after one of its members  Ornella Saibene, who has a disabled godson relying on the unit’s services every week, raised the issue.

Unite pointed out ‘the curious financial reasoning’ that sees the much-needed beds facing the axe, while  a total of £2.3 million is being spent on 20 mph road signs in the city.

Unite community coordinator for the south west Brett Sparkes said: “The Bush respite centre provides a vital service to our community, offering care and support to the most vulnerable children and pressured families in our city. These cuts, if they are allowed to go ahead, will start the slippery slope towards closure.

“The recently refurbished building has excellent facilities. Fostering, befriending, short breaks and direct payments are no match to the resources and care at the Bush. Unite Community is standing in solidarity with the children and families that rely on the crucial services at the Bush.”

Richard Mills, research director, Research Autism said: “It is my firm view that families of children with complex needs require short break services that are accessible and reliable, and have the guaranteed capacity to support their children and where they can have complete confidence that their children will receive expert care in an environment that is fit for purpose.

“This is not easy to achieve, which is why the closure of the Bush is illogical and must be resisted.”

 


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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