COUNCILLORS who fought against the closure of a Wirral respite centre have demanded a special meeting to discuss claims that the alternative service for its clients is 'well short' of what was promised.

Girtrell Court shut its doors in November and services were transfered to a new purpose-built facility in Tollemache Road, Birkenhead, run by Sanctuary Housing.

Its closure followed a long battle to save the Saughall Massie centre.

Moreton and Saughall Massie Conservative councillor Chris Blakeley is among those demanding a special meeting of the council to discuss the claims from service users that the Labour administration's promise for an 'equal to, or better than,' alternative for Girtrell Court has fallen well short of the mark.

The council has rejected the claim.

Cllr Blakeley told the Globe: "Last year when the Labour Councillors voted to close the much loved and much needed Girtell Court it was done so on the promise of equal to, or better than, provision, yet now we discover that this facility, owned and managed by Sanctuary Housing, simply cannot meet the same level of provision that was previously available at Girtrell Court.

"We were told that the number of users who wanted to transfer was only 55, yet now we discover the figure, quoted by Sanctuary Housing, is 90.

"There is no way that another 35 service users, who wanted a 'choice' away from bed based respite, have now miraculously returned to the fold.

"It appears that the 'choice' argument has been shown to be a clear manipulation of data and, in the process, carers, councillors and residents have been misled in order to justify the unnecessary closure of Girtrell Court.

"I believe it is absolutely necessary to bring this matter back to Council so that all elected members, of whatever political party, can be given the facts and can decide for themselves if the promise, made repeatedly by the leader of the council and the cabinet member for adult social care, of 'equal to, or better than', provision has been honoured."

A spokesperson for Wirral Council said: "For over a year now, the council has maintained that we are determined to increase the choice of services available to people who need respite support.

"If people want traditional, bed-based respite services – then that is what they will get.

"If they want something different – a short break, a holiday somewhere else, or a completely different type of support – then we will endeavour to provide that, too.

"When our entire budget for this type of service is tied up in one building, Girtrell Court, then we are unable to offer people the kind of choice they want.

"This is why we made the difficult decision to re-provide respite services away from Girtrell Court, and we remain absolutely confident the services provided at the new service on Tollemache Road will be more than suitable to meet the needs of the people who choose to go there."