Day Centre closure moves closer to the High Court A resident of a Gloucestershire based day centre is planning to fight

the County Council’s decision to close it, in the High Court. Gary Pockett, from Dursley in Gloucestershire, has been attending the Unit for day services for almost 20 years. He has learning difficulties, is registered blind, uses a hearing aid and suffers from epilepsy. He attends the Unit for five days a week and receives a wide range of services and support from staff there. Mr Pockett derives huge benefit from being able to attend the Dursley Training Unit and was devastated after the Local Authority indicated its decision to close the Unit later this year. He, his family and the families of other users have lobbied the County Council – forcing a debate in Shire Hall on the issue after gathering a petition of 7,700 local residents’ names. However, Gloucestershire County Council confirmed its decision to close the centre last month. Gary has now instructed a firm of solicitors, Goodmans Law Ltd based in Liverpool, to challenge the decision in the High Court. A letter of claim was sent to the Chief Executive of the County Council last week challenging the lawfulness of the decision taken by the local authority to close the Dursley Training Unit. The family state that the Council failed to “have due regard” under the Equality Act 2010, for the care needs of Gary and other residents at the Centre. Gary is seeking the Council’s acceptance that the decision to close the Unit was unlawful, that the decision is revoked immediately and that it agrees to continue to fund the Unit. Gary has been supported by his brother Chris throughout the campaign, who following last week’s developments, stated, “Throughout our campaign, we have maintained that closure of the DTU would be a life changing decision that would negatively impact a group of disabled adults for the rest of their lives. We do not take this action lightly, but the stakes are very high for my brother Gary and the other users of the centre and we must therefore do everything that we can to protect the future wellbeing of one of the most vulnerable groups in our community.” Ian Cohen, Director of Goodmans Law Ltd, confirmed, “This is clearly a measure designed to make savings in the authority’s social care funding. It appears that insufficient thought has been given to the needs of those attending Dursley Training Unit. Unless Gloucestershire County Council carefully reconsiders its position by 20 th June 2011, High Court action will follow to protect Gary’s position and the quality of life of the other disabled adults who attend the Centre. “

Note to Editors: Dursley Training Unit The Unit was established by Gloucestershire CC in the early 1990s as a move away from large day centre provision. There are currently 21 users who attend the centre, enjoying a wide range of beneficial activities both within the Unit and the local community. Consultation on the proposed closures ran from 11 November 2010 to 31 January 2011. The proposal to close the day centres was considered by the authority’s Health, Community and Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 1 February 2011 and a final decision made on 18th May 2011. Goodmans Law Ltd A leading law firm based in the N West of England, which specialises in medical negligence and personal injury claims as well as public law. The firm is based at 4-6 St Johns Road, Waterloo, Liverpool (www.goodmanslaw.co.uk). The case follows the recent High Court decision in R (W, M and others) v Birmingham CC [2011]. This case concerned Birmingham’s decision to restrict eligibility for adult social care to only those individuals with ‘critical’ needs. In taking its decision Birmingham CC produced several equality impact assessments which purported to show ‘due regard’ to the disability equality duty. However, the Judge held that ‘due regard’ had not in fact been shown and quashed the decision.