RIVAL councillors have demanded that civic chiefs immediately reopen a controversially-closed respite centre full-time, as carers continue in their struggle to find alternative care.

But city leaders are holding back on the Kentish Road calls, claiming they cannot pledge to fully reopen it until after a ‘future-plan’ has been completed.

Currently the centre, which was reopened under council control in May – after its closure in November last year, offers weekend and emergency respite care.

But carers say this is not enough, and there aren’t enough alternative provisions – despite the authority claiming there is.

At the city council’s scrutiny meeting on Thursday evening, October 11, Conservative members said that the centre should be opened seven-days-a-week while this plan takes places – even if at a reduced capacity of four beds.

They added that the authority’s new budget plan, which was released on Monday, includes additional cash to allow it to open Kentish Road – or a similar-sized eight-bed respite centre – full-time.

Speaking at the meeting, Tory leader Dan Fitzhenry quizzed adult social care Labour cabinet member Lorna Fielker about the council’s running of Kentish Road.

He said: “Maybe I am missing something. We have allocated the money that would cover opening it full-time.


“The leader [Chris Hammond] has already committed to to opening it at weekends, but why can’t he go another step further?

“Why don’t we open the site immediately with a four-bed provision and continue the consultation?”

Cllr Fielker responded: “I cannot commit to that. I am not able to do it.

“I don’t have the information [to hand, that] shows we can do that.”

She added: “I think it would be great to open it seven days a week. But at this moment in time we have not committed to that, but it is an option on the table.

“My view is that I would like to offer seven-day respite at the centre, but I cannot guarantee that as it’s not my decision alone.”

Paul Juan, service director for adults, housing, and communities, said: “It is not open at the moment because it’s deemed that there’s sufficient alternatives for respite care elsewhere in the city.”

Regarding the budgeted cash, he added: “The money is the cost of running an eight-bed, round-the-clock respite facility. We felt it prudent to allow for that in the budget to have the full cost of the scheme ready to use – if the decision to reopen the site full-time [following the consultation – which will work with carers and local groups] was made.”

The call will go to Southampton City Council’s Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, October 16, where it will be decided if it will be answered.