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It is with some sadness that we have to announce the closure of the Engine Shed in Edinburgh. Below is a statement from Marian MacDonald, CEO going into more detail on this matter. Last year thousands of people signed petitions and protested against the threats to the closure and we were able to win a year’s reprieve for the service. However the policy of the council did not change and it continued to pursue a single approach to helping people with learning disabilities into work.
This made it impossible to secure continuing funding from this council department for a service like the Engine Shed which focuses on providing a more complicated pattern of training opportunities, work placements and job hunting. In addition the Engine Shed’s ability to manage was getting more difficult following several years of the restricted funding from the council. The Engine Shed was getting less money last year than they did 10 years previously.
As far as we are aware at no point in the last year has anyone from the council said that they didn’t want the Engine Shed but it has suffered from not fitting into the new priorities that the council has been promoting. Given that we are moving into the world of choice, Self Directed Support, where people who get services can choose what they want to do with their support, it is strange to see this unique and valued service vanishing by neglect while it remains popular with those who use it.
The questions we will have to face in the future are
· how much choice do people with learning disabilities really have if there is only one model of support for them and
- how many other services that people rely on are also suffering from this gradual restriction on council funding?
ENGINE SHED STATEMENT
You will be aware that over the past two years the Engine shed had been responding to the challenge brought about by the review undertaken by the City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) of their funding strategy for specialist employability service in Edinburgh.
Dozens of people with learning disabilities carried the commonwealth baton in different parts of Scotland as the whole country joined in the build up.
But what will happen after the Commonwealth Games for other people with learning disabilities. We know some people with profound disabilities will be moving to stay in the Commonwealth Village. The new housing will be adapted to have the right equipment and layout to support some of our most vulnerable citizens.
But a long running sore in Glasgow concerning the Accord Centre still remains to be sorted. Despite an energetic campaign, the centre was demolished to build a car and coach park for the 4 week period of the games.
People who used the Accord moved temporarily to a local community centre and were promised that space would be created in the new Aquatic Centre after the games were finished.
The Scottish Government said they would put up £150,000 to make this happen. But now Glasgow City Council say they only agreed to provide enhanced disabled access to Tollcross, which they say has been achieved with the installation of changing facilities, height adjustable benches and electric hoists.
Council failed to consult properly over day centre closure by not asking specific about particular services due to close. It was not enough to imply that a new policy might mean some closures says the Court of Appeal
A county council failed to consult properly about the closure of a day centre, the Court of Appeal has ruled. The case of LH, R (on the application of) v Shropshire Council  EWCA Civ 404 centred on the closure of the Hartleys Day Centre in Shrewsbury. The claimant (LH) was a 63-year-old user of the centre who had a learning disability and had been assessed as having substantial care needs. Her sister acted as her litigation friend.
Shropshire had decided to close Hartleys after re-thinking the approach to day care in the county. This reconfiguration was partly a result of budgetary constraints and partly followed Government encouragement to give disabled people personalised budgets for spending in relation to their disability.
At issue was the extent of consultation required when a council reconfigures its day services and then decides to close a centre.
- The local authority argued that it had consulted generally about the new system it was bringing in and had made it clear that some day care centres would close.
- The claimant, however, argued that she and others should have been consulted in relation to the closure of Hartleys itself before it occurred. It was also alleged that there had been a failure to comply with the public sector equality duty contained in s. 149 of the Equality Act 2010.
On Tuesday 17th September the City of Edinburgh Council looked at the Employability and Skills Disability review. This is the report that originally put at jeopardy the future of the Engine Shed and raised the prospect of competitive tendering of supported employment in the city. It has been updated and you can read it here
The Learning Disability Alliance Scotland took a deputation along to put the case for the Engine Shed and the Real Jobs project. Sue McLernon explained what a difference the project had made to her daughter. Chris Johnstone, a trainee at the Engine Shed also was in the deputation. We made the points that while we have heard from Councillors and Council Staff over the summer that there had been no intention to shut the Engine Shed and the that the council wanted to work cooperatively over future developments, we were not sure that all the things that we have heard are reflected in the report.
Our deputation also spoke about how the Real Jobs Project service users had told us how they wanted to keep their service in place too. How they valued their choice but also how they had been turned down for Direct Payments when they applied.
Over 14,000 people signed petitions wanting to keep the Engine Shed, thousands emailing the council and hundreds visiting their councillors, none of these comments got into the report. You would have no idea that many people need other ways of getting support than the “place and train” model. Nor is the fact that despite its own strategy, the Scottish Government has just made its biggest investment in supported employment for ten years and it wasn’t in “place, train and support in ordinary jobs” but in the Project Search internship model.
Glasgow City Council is proposing to close three of the existing seven centres Berryknowes, Summerston, Hinshaw Street for people with learning disabilities.
The number of attendees would be reduced from a current 520 to 200.
Failures in the Council’s Case.
If there has been a failure to assess, how do the council know what current needs are.
One of the arguments used to justify closure of the centres is that current users have never been properly assessed. The report states: