Anger over decision to shut Harborough's Roman Way Day Centre Harborough which offers support for seriously-disabled adults

“For me personally it sums up the world that we are now living in – ‘Profit over People’”

Nicola Brooks and her husband Michael
Nicola Brooks and her husband Michael

An outraged veteran campaigner has blasted moves to shut a vital support service in Market Harborough for seriously-disabled adults.

Anne Pridmore, 81, gathered over 800 signatures after she launched a petition in the autumn in a bid to save the Community Life Choices lifeline for families at the Roman Way Day Centre.

But it wasn’t enough as Leicestershire County Council controversially acted to axe the service in Market Harborough town centre.

Josh Brooks

Local political activist Anne said the bombshell decision had caused her “deep sadness” and would devastate many families.

“Roman Way has always had a place in my heart because it was during a bleak period in my life I got a job there as a volunteer.

“This led to me running two Gateway Clubs - one in Market Harborough and one in Lutterworth.

“I also took the attendees on holiday outward bounding three times.

“Not only did I find the work rewarding but it was the catalyst that led to me leading a European organisation and campaigning not only in the country but in many European countries,” said Anne, Chair of Harborough Branch Labour Party and Disability Officer for the Constituency Labour Party.

“I know how much these people rely on the companionship and facilities that Roman Way gives them.

“It also provides respite for parents or loved ones who look after these people.

“The county council are selling out to a private enterprise which will not accommodate many of these people who will be left to get on with it,” insisted Anne, who’s disabled herself after being born with cerebral palsy.

“Many of these parents are elderly and they need support themselves.

“For me personally it sums up the world that we are now living in – ‘Profit over People’.”

Heartbroken Nicola Brooks, 64, and her husband Michael, 64, have also fought tooth and nail to try to save the crucial support scheme for their son Josh, 33, who has severe learning difficulties.

Distraught Nicola, of Gardiner Street, Market Harborough, told the Harborough Mail earlier this month: “This is a cruel and terrible thing to do to us.

“And not just to us but to all the other local families involved as well.

“We haven’t even heard anything yet from the county council – and the brilliant staff at Roman Way haven’t been told anything either.

“It’s totally disgusting.

“We haven’t got a clue what is going to happen now.

“How can the council do this to the most vulnerable people in our society, the people who need help the most?

“They have just given us the worst possible present just days before Christmas,” said Nicola.

“Josh has been going to Roman Way Day Centre for the last 12 years or so.

“He was anxious and nervous when he started going.

“But the staff there have really brought him out of himself.

“Josh loves going there.

“He loves the people who look after him – and he gets on so well with the other adults who attend with him.

“They are just one big happy family,” said the mother-of-five.

“So what does the future hold for them all now?

“It doesn’t bear thinking about.”

A Leicestershire County Council spokesman told the Mail: “We are grateful to everybody who took the time to give us their views on our proposed changes to our Community Life Choices service.

“We were pleased to see the value people clearly place in CLC.

“However, demand for it has been reducing in recent years.

“That trend sped up during the pandemic and our capacity to deliver in-house services has drastically reduced causing us to consider new ways of trying to maintain the service in the best way for people who use it.”

He added: “Throughout this process we have been working closely with affected families and some have already chosen to have their day care provided by the independent sector rather than directly from the council.

“The council will continue to fund day care of people who are eligible for it up to and after it helps them find the best independent provider to meet their specific needs.”