We need a decision on our play lifeline

Woodlands School Stars Holiday Play Scheme, Whitegate Drive, Blackpool
Woodlands School Stars Holiday Play Scheme, Whitegate Drive, Blackpool
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FURIOUS parents are calling for Blackpool Council to make a decision on whether a vital lifeline will be scrapped.

Staff at Aiming High for Disabled Children (ADHC) which runs activities and play schemes for disabled youngsters will lose their jobs at the end of March.

But parents say they are still waiting to be told if the ADHC sponsored project ‘Stars’ (Socialisation Through Active Recreation and Sports) – which provides activities in the school holidays – will be running its Easter scheme.

They say the council has a statutory obligation to provide a service for disabled youngsters and respite for parents.

Karen Alexander, whose four-year-old son Joshua attends ‘Little Stars’ said it was a travesty the vital service was under threat.

She said: “Aiming High runs all sorts of great schemes including Stars, if the infrastructure is lost it will be too expensive to ever bring back.

“We are all in limbo, no-one will tell us what we need to do and whether there will be any respite care in place this Easter, some parents will have to give up work if there isn’t.”

A former worker, who did not wish to be named, said she was told cash is in place but no-one wants to take responsibility for it.

The ex-worker said: “The Government has provided the council with money for care for disabled children which is not ring fenced.

“However I was told in a meeting with the council last week that £9,000 would be available to run an Easter holiday scheme.

“The problem is there will be no staff to run the programme, so what do we do.”

David Lund, executive director of children, adult and family services at Blackpool Council, said the original Stars play-scheme, developed many years ago, was wholly council funded. 

He said: “Thanks to the additional funding provided through (AHDC) the range and scope of play-schemes and short breaks has broadened throughout the two year programme. 

“The AHDC programme will end later this month but the funding which was provided for the original Stars summer play-scheme has been protected in our budget plans for 2011/12.”

“The council is developing a long term strategy to maintain support for short breaks.

In the short-term we are intending to maintain the status quo as for existing play-schemes.”