Special needs kids’ group ‘locked out’

A support group for the parents and carers of children with special needs has found a new base after it was mistakenly told to leave the centre it had used for five years.

Frantic Families met weekly at the Youth and Community Bungalow on Dalton’s Close, in Langley Mill, until they received a phone call on Thursday February 28 telling them the locks would be changed the next morning.

Derbyshire County Council has since apologised for the message, saying the group was misinformed, but has confirmed the centre will close.

Founder Leigh Morton said: “The caretaker was told he had two hours to get out of the building and the locks would be changed the next day. We are out of pocket now because of someone else’s mistake.”

After the call, Frantic Families made a financial commitment of £20 a month to a new venue and booked it for a year.

Leigh, of Kirk Close, Ripley, added: “We have found somewhere else and we are having to pay rent. DCC told me it will probably close by Easter but they will try and find us somewhere rent free. That’s no good to us now.

“Someone has blundered, we have acted on it and now we are in the schtuck. I know the council have to do cutbacks - but the way they have gone about is wrong.”

After news of the ‘closure’ broke last week, councillor Mick Fowkes, chairman of Aldercar and Langley Mill Parish Council, offered to pay two months’ rent for the group at a new venue. The group found another meeting place at the Welfare pub in Langley Mill.

A spokesman for Derbyshire County Council said: “We would like to offer our apologies to the Frantic Families group. The group were misinformed. The lock was not changed. Cabinet took the decision on March 5 to close the building, but it will not close until we find a new home for the group. There are no other groups using the building.”

Frantic Families is self-funded and has been running for ten years. It receives referrals from paediatricians, GP surgeries and other health professionals.

Leigh, who has a 15-year-old son who suffers from autism, said the group was aware the centre, which they had used rent-free, could be closed after attending a meeting with the council in October, but had not been told anything since.

She said: “Frantic Families is for the parents, carers and guardians of children with special needs, and these needs range from attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHDto brain tumours. We are well attended by professionals, some of which are happy to come and talk to the families about dietary needs, medication to help our chilren or benefit help.”