A petition signed by 2,500 Bristol residents will be presented to councillors tomorrow (Tuesday 15 September) urging the city council to reject plans to axe five beds at the Bush residential unit for disabled children.
The independent mayor of Bristol George Ferguson is pressing ahead with his plans to scrap the beds in a bid to save £350,000-a-year, despite widespread opposition, and the full council rejecting the mayor’s proposals in February.
The campaign has been spearheaded by the Bristol community branch of Unite, the country’s largest union, after one of its members Ornella Saibene, who has a disabled godson relying on the unit’s services every week, raised the issue.
The petition will be handed in to the full council meeting at St George's Hall, Great George Street, Bristol BS1 5RR at 17.45 tomorrow (Tuesday 15 September).
Unite pointed out ‘the curious financial reasoning’ that sees the much-needed beds facing the axe, while a total of £2.3 million is being spent on 20 mph road signs in the city.
Unite community coordinator for the south west Brett Sparkes said: “The Bush respite centre provides a vital service to our community, offering care and support to the most vulnerable children and pressured families in our city. These cuts, if they are allowed to go ahead, will start the slippery slope towards closure.
“The recently refurbished building has excellent facilities. Fostering, befriending, short breaks and direct payments are no match to the resources and care at the Bush. Unite Community is standing in solidarity with the children and families that rely on the crucial services at the Bush.”
Richard Mills, research director, Research Autism said: “It is my firm view that families of children with complex needs require short break services that are accessible and reliable, and have the guaranteed capacity to support their children and where they can have complete confidence that their children will receive expert care in an environment that is fit for purpose.
“This is not easy to achieve, which is why the closure of the Bush is illogical and must be resisted.”
Notes to editors:
Contacts for the regional media for those connected with the campaign.
Unite regional community coordinator, Brett Sparkes on 07718 666593
Bush campaign: 0117 3730099; mobile 07964 749144
Rita Lynch, Bush campaign parents’ spokesperson: 0117 909897; mobile 07951 022473
Ron Stone, Labour councillor (Bristol) on 0117 977 9169
Richard Mills, research director, Research Autism on 07515 127557
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble in the Unite press office on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940.
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.