Downham Market meeting held over Morley House

Save Morley House Campaign Supporters in Downham Market  collecting signatures on the petition to keep it open. 'The group held a meeting prior to collecting signatures, they invited NCC Conservative Leader Cliff Jordan to the meeting, but his seat was left empty.'LtoR, Jo Rayner, Jessica Kibble, Rhiane Green, Claire Clarke
Save Morley House Campaign Supporters in Downham Market collecting signatures on the petition to keep it open. 'The group held a meeting prior to collecting signatures, they invited NCC Conservative Leader Cliff Jordan to the meeting, but his seat was left empty.'LtoR, Jo Rayner, Jessica Kibble, Rhiane Green, Claire Clarke

There was an empty seat at a meeting held in Downham on Friday to discuss issues surrounding the closure of Morley House.

Norfolk County Council has said that it will no longer be funding respite stays at the home in Lynn for disabled children, which is run by the charity Break.

The meeting heard personal stories about life with a severely disabled child.

Local MPs Sir Henry Bellingham and Elizabeth Truss were invited and sent apologies.

An empty seat was kept for county council Cliff Jordan, who was invited but did not reply.

A spokeswoman for the group said: “We appreciate the two MPs invited had to be in London and welcome that Elizabeth Truss has given us an alternative date and Henry Bellingham has said he will meet us on another date.

“We are wholly disappointed that no one from Norfolk County Council came and especially that the leader, Cliff Jordan, who has made statements that there are no cuts to services and made speeches in which he has highlighted that disabled children and vulnerable people in Norfolk and their carers must be supported, did not even give us a reply to the invite.

“We had a chair ready for him in case he did come along but sadly that was not the case.

“We believe the children and parents of those losing the vital service of Morley House deserve more.

“Although there has been a meeting with [county council disabled children’s commissioner] Rachel Gates to which some of those affected were invited, the meeting gave us no more clarity on what will be in place instead of Morley, just that [care home] Marshfield’s has some space and that the reassessments will take place in March.

“These are reassessments none of us believe are required and the new reassessment criteria that we think has been decided upon to say that children no longer qualify.

“Suggestions at the meeting for some things to replace Morley were just astonishing to hear, and those with term-time children boarding at Morley have not even been reassured any term time boarding will continue at all in any provision in the area.

“We don’t believe any one from Norfolk we have dealt with so far has any idea of the level of complex need our children have.”