Campaigners protest outside Blackpool town hall today because the council wants to close a mental health centre

Mental health campaigners organised a protest against plans to axe a residential centre in Blackpool.

Monday, 10th February 2020, 1:02 pm
Updated Monday, 10th February 2020, 8:36 pm

The Stand Together and Recovery (STAR) group gathered outside the town hall from 4pm today, furious at proposals to shut the council-run centre which helps those with mental health issues in Gloucester Avenue.

Seven jobs could also be lost at the home, which provides short-term accommodation for up to six people, The Gazette reported last week.

The group said it would be making signs at the community centre in Claremont Road this afternoon, before marching down Dickson Road and protesting at the town hall, in Talbot Square.

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

The Stand Together and Recover (STAR) group has previously posted 'messages of hope' in the Tower Woods park, off West Drive and Holmfield Avenue in Cleveleys (Picture: STAR/Facebook)

"We will be meeting at 4pm outside the town hall," the group said on Facebook. "Everyone welcome. Please invite your friends. Let the council know that we matter."

The plans were revealed as part of the council's budget announcement, which said the authority must make nearly £20m of savings in order to balance the books this year.

Local government union Unison said it flew in the face of Tory promises - made before the General Election - that austerity was ending.

Rather than at the home in Goucester Avenue, mental health support would be offered through a 'crisis cafe' and the non-clinical Centre for Independent Living.

In 2018, when 17 people in Blackpool killed themselves amid a national surge in suicides, resort coroner Alan Wilson warned more people would die if "struggling" mental health services did not get help to cope with the huge level of demand they are facing, while town councillors said a lack of staff, beds, and cash had left services in Lancashire "in chaos".

STAR said in a "call to arms" that those staying at the Gloucester Avenue home - understood to be two individuals - "will now be placed out of town or not get the help they need at all".

It said: "Access to mental health help is already lacking. What will they take next? How many more people will we have to lose? How many more deaths?"

Blackpool Council has been approached for a comment.