Anger as children to be moved from respite care home in Letchworth

Parents and children outside Wilbury House respite care home which is due to be closed following com

Parents and children outside Wilbury House respite care home which is due to be closed following complaints of noise. - Credit: Archant

CHILDREN diagnosed with special needs are being moved out of their respite care home after eight noise complaints in the last six years.

Angry parents whose children are looked after at the state-of-the-art facility in Letchworth GC say they are outraged their youngsters, who have an array of health problems, will now be moved.

They claim they are being forced to leave Wilbury House and go to a similar facility in Ripon Road, Stevenage – a move they say will be upsetting for the 43 children affected.

Katrina Nice from Baldock, whose 15-year-old daughter Victoria was born with spina bifida, said: “It is a huge shame. They did the place up to allow for wheelchair access and made it possible for Victoria to go there, which gave her a lot of independence and a break for us as a family.

“It has been the perfect location to send Victoria there for one night each month, and as group we want to see it stay open.

“I do not want to send my daughter to Ripon Road, she is happy and comfortable at Wilbury House.”

The 50-year-old said she felt disappointed the county council were acting on the complaints made by residents surrounding the facility and felt that, in light of the accepting attitude of people with disabilities that shone through at the Paralympic Games, she could not believe the council were taking the complaints seriously.

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Clare Botterman, whose 18-year-old daughter has learning disabilities and attends the provision twice a month, said Wilbury House was a place you would want your child to be when they were not at home.

She said: “We are extremely upset this is happening because our children are very happy during their stays at Wilbury and they love and trust the very dedicated and very caring staff.”

As well as reacting to the noise complaints, Hertfordshire County Council have said they are not renegotiating the lease of the property with Letchworth Heritage Foundation.

The council confirmed there had been eight complaints of noise over the six past years.

John Barfoot, deputy cabinet member for children’s services, said: “Currently we lease the building but unfortunately have not been able to negotiate a change to the lease arrangements that will allow Wilbury House to remain as a short breaks service.

“Although we own the house, the Letchworth Heritage Foundation has to agree the terms of use.

“In addition, since the home opened in 2006 there have been ongoing issues with some of the local community around the impact of this home, particularly in relation to noise, parking problems and the amount of traffic.

“As a result of these issues, we need to find a new location so we can continue to provide the short breaks currently available at Wilbury House.

“We will do all we can to make the transition to Ripon Road as smooth as possible.”