‘Sad day’ as residents lose battle to save Burgess Hill disability centre

Residents have lost their battle to save a disability centre in Burgess Hill – despite gaining more than 4,000 signatures on a petition.

Ernest Kleinwort Court in Oakenfield - which provides accommodation and support for people with physical disabilities - will close today (October 31), The Disabilities Trust said.

Upset residents outside Errnest Kleinwort Court in Burgess Hill campaigning against the closure. Photo by Steve Robards

Upset residents outside Errnest Kleinwort Court in Burgess Hill campaigning against the closure. Photo by Steve Robards

It said all 26 residents have moved to new homes. It also said it was pleased that 12 staff had decided to remain with the Trust in other roles.

The Rev Trevor Beckett, who set up the petition, said it was a ‘sad day’.

He added: “We really tried hard. One of the great things we did manage to do with the petition is it gave a voice to families, residents and staff, during the most difficult time in their lives.”

Mr Beckett said there were still questions that needed to be answered.

He said: “We want to know what is going to happen to this building, how a decision like this was made, without public consultation, and why the Freedom of Information Act does not extend to such organisations, so there is no way of the public ever knowing more behind the decision.”

Mr Beckett added that he was ‘amazed’ at residents and staff who have conducted themselves impressively throughout the process.

Irene Sobowale, CEO of The Disabilities Trust, told the Middy: “It has been a sad time for the residents and for many of the staff over the last few months, but the local authority and NHS funders have now moved everyone to new homes or different care arrangements.

“I am confident that, however difficult, we made the right decision and that residents will live life to the full in their new homes or under their new care arrangements.

“In the longer term, the Trust intends that the site will still be used to support people with complex disabilities; the charity will continue its discussions with the NHS and local authority commissioners about the kind of service that is needed for people in and around Sussex.”

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