The High Court has blocked Birmingham City Council’s closure of a day centre, which provides services for more than 50 disabled adults.
Lawyers acting on behalf of one centre user secured an interim order yesterday, temporarily preventing the council from progressing plans to close the Fairway Day Centre.
Birmingham City Council had approved the closure of the Kings Norton centre in a cabinet meeting on September 18.
But lawyers from Irwin Mitchell have applied for a judicial review, claiming that an inadequate consultation process makes the closure unlawful.
The High Court will now review the case, and a decision on whether to grant permission to proceed with a judicial review is not expected until next month.
The interim relief means that the council cannot reduce services it offers at the Fairway Centre, redeploy staff or make them redundant in the meantime.
“We are pleased that the High Court has granted the interim relief order which will provide some peace of mind to those who rely on the centre for the time being,” said Oliver Carter, public law and human rights lawyer at Irwin Mitchell.
“We are heartened that when granting the interim order, the judge commented that we had a strong case that a full and lawful consultation over the closure was required.
“We once again call on the local authority to listen to the people who use Fairway Day Centre and their families, and reconsider the decision to close this vital service.”
Labour cabinet member for health and social care Councillor Paulette Hamilton has previously said that the centre was under-ulitilised, and too expensive to justify repairs, which would cost an estimated £400,000.
She denies that the consultation period fell short.
Wendy Collymore, chair of the Save Fairway Day Centre campaign group – and whose own father relies on the centre – said it was an important asset for some of the most vulnerable adults in Birmingham.
“There is a lot of fear and uncertainty at the minute about what is going to happen,” she said.
“Hopefully, this order will provide some clarity and convince the council to think again about closing Fairway. If needed, we will continue to fight this through the courts.”
Birmingham City Council says it is currently reassessing all service users’ needs and considering other options for care, including use of a direct payment, access to community resources, support at home and access to other council-run centres.
A spokeswoman said: “All service users’ needs are being reassessed and options looked at, ensuring that support and care is provided to meet eligible social care need and that support is provided in local communities close to home.”