CAMPAIGNERS who fought to save a Southampton respite centre have claimed the council is trying to “sabotage” it so they have an excuse to shut the service.

Mums Amanda Guest and Lisa Stead also slammed the authority for putting too many barriers in place since it reopened Kentish Road Respite Centre in July, which they claim are obstructing many who want to use the centre.

But the city council has disputed the claims, saying it is working with families to “innovate” the service.

It comes just months after the then-newly appointed council leader Chris Hammond said the authority would take the centre back under control, claiming shutting it had “not been the council’s finest hour”.

However, the centre was only reopened for weekend and emergency care – with campaigners still pushing to see it reopened full time.

Mrs Guest, pictured above, who has a child that uses the centre, said: “Unfortunately there seems to be many restrictions in place for new families or those wishing to return to use the centre. We’re concerned that the council is deliberately attempting to sabotage Kentish Road.“The council has had long enough to get the centre opened on a full time basis.

“Weekend respite does not meet all our needs“Our message is this: Keep things simple. Open the centre full time. Respite should not be used in any other way. It should not be complicated.”

Fellow campaigner Mrs Stead, pictured below, added: “We feel that Southampton City Council is still failing disabled people.“I’ve have spoken to a council officer involved who has told me that Kentish Road is not expected to open full time. They are looking at alternative options.

“We call on the council to restore Kentish Road to a full seven-day week respite centre.”

The authority’s adult care chief, Cllr Lorna Fielker, said: “In July, after listening to families that had used Kentish Road, visiting respite centres and speaking to partners in the voluntary sector and other stakeholders, the leader announced that the council had decided to retain responsibility for delivering re-designed services at Kentish Road.“We took this decision to ensure that the right mix of adult care options available in the city to create a more flexible solution to meet a variety of needs in one location.

“Having re-opened the centre, we are currently providing emergency and weekend bed-based respite care.

“The leader has given commitment to this continuing as part of any future solutions. The Care Quality Commission registration that the centre has, has no restrictions attached.

“We will be developing our future plans in partnership with the families who use Kentish Road for respite, and the organisations who support them and have our first meeting later this month. We are seeking to deliver a transformed model that meets the individual care needs, of people with learning disabilities, and their families in the city in a personalised and innovative way.”

The decision to close Kentish Road was initially announced in 2015, following a 12-week consultation with carers. The authority said it would save £300,000 from the closure – though this figure has been questioned by carers and opposition Conservative councillors.

The closure was delayed until April last year, when the council sent out a letter confirming its intention to shut the centre. This sparked a petition by carers Amanda Guest and Lisa Stead, which gathered more than 2,000 signatures.

The pair led a prolonged campaign to save the centre, even marching through the streets of Southampton in protest at the decision.

Service users also showered Labour cabinet members with fake money following a debate at full council.