Year’s stay of execution for Morley House in King’s Lynn

The Countess of Wessex gets to know a young visitor during a visit to Break's Morley House at King's

The Countess of Wessex gets to know a young visitor during a visit to Break's Morley House at King's Lynn. Picture: Submitted - Credit: Archant

A respite home for children with complex needs has won a stay of execution for a year - but families want it to stay open.

Families feared they would lose their lifeline when Morley House in King's Lynn closes.

The centre, which is run by charity Break, was due to stop offering short breaks to children in August, when its contract with Norfolk County Council closed.

The council said it was changing the way it funded respite breaks for children.

But parents said they would be left with no alternative and the move would cause 'unnecessary harm' to families.

Now Sarah Jones, the council's assistant director of children's services, has told parents in a letter: 'As a result of listening to what people have told us, we have asked Break to continue

operating Morley House as a residential short breaks and mid-week boarding unit until March 2019 in order to allow for a longer period of transition for families.

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'We know that access to overnight respite is really valuable for families where the needs of their disabled child are such that there is a significant impact on family life.

'Speaking to parents and talking to local MPs who have been in contact with their constituents has confirmed this. I need to make clear that those families who are assessed to need overnight respite will continue to receive this.'

The Save Morley House Campaign said: 'Whilst we welcome the decision today by children's services to keep Morley available to those who currently use it for respite or boarding, we are concerned that the authority still intend to cease using it in March 2019 and that Morley families are still to be forced to have a reassessment in March 2018.

'Our view is that this decision today has come to stop our challenge within the necessary time frame for judicial review. We continue to be concerned that the Morley issue will merelty move to anothercommunity in Norfolk as the cuts to service continue across the county.

'We thank Elizabeth Truss MP and Henry Bellingham MP for meeting us on Friday and will keep them updated on the assessment in March and the consultation process. Sadly Morley is not saved, it has had a reprieve.'

The announcement came after MPs Elizabeth Truss and Sir Henry Bellingham met families who would be affected by the move.

After they met the head of children's services Sarah Tough and Tim Eyres, head of commissioning

Ms Truss said: 'I want to ensure that respite care and support for the families is available and I made this point to the head of children's services when we met last week.

'I am concerned about the way these families have been communicated with given that they are in very challenging circumstances so I am extremely pleased that Norfolk County Council has delayed the proposed closure of Morley House until 2019.'

More than 3,200 people have signed a petition to save Morley House.

It will be presented to members of Norfolk County Council's children's panel tomorrow.

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