AN OVERNIGHT children's respite centre in Winchester may close.

Hampshire County Council is asking for people’s views on proposals to close Merrydale on Church Lane in Kings Worthy, which cares for young people with learning disabilities.

The eight week consultation is also considering the future of Sunbeams in Aldershot.

As of March 2017 there were 28 users of Merrydale and 24 members of staff.

Hampshire County councillor Keith Mans, executive lead member for children’s services, said: “I am aware that this can be an unsettling time for those families who could be affected by proposals on possible changes to services. However, at this stage, I must stress that no decisions have been made.

“I think it is extremely important that the groups of people who could be affected, as well as the wider public, have the chance to have their say, and I urge them to do so through the public consultation.”

The county council say they are aiming to develop a potential offer which has a less institutionalised approach and is more in line with choices that families are asking for.

The offer could include family breaks, specialist foster care for one or more nights, home care breaks with a carer staying overnight and activity centre trips, as well as residential respite care provided by other organisations.

Cllr Jackie Porter, who represents the Worthys and is also a county councillor, said: "I welcome the review, this has been talked about for a long time and we need to make sure families have effective respite care.

"We regret the people that could lose their jobs but there are plenty of opportunities to continue within Hampshire County Council.

"I am keen to use others like Sebastian's Action Trust and Naomi House and Jacksplace.

"I welcome it because it's a service that does really well but it can do even better."

Cllr Malcolm Prince, who represents the Worthys, said: "From my perspective it is critical full notice is taken of the staff, families and attendees at Merrydale.

"Having lived within 100 yards of Merrydale for 25 years I am of the opinion that the centre has been welcomed to the Worthys and is indeed a positive for all.

"The centre in Kings Worthy has the benefit of a regular bus service which has a stop at the entrance. It is close to the local park and countryside. The park has special facilities for the disabled and is a short walking distance, largely traffic free, from the centre."

Niki Bloxsidge from Chandler's Ford, whose daughter Ella, 11 uses the centre, said: "It's a lifesaver. I desperately don't want it to close, it's an amazing place.

"Just coping day to day is really tough. Ella requires a specialist bed, equipment, and what Merrydale offer is all that with well-trained staff.

"I have two other children and it gives us space and time to spend with them which I normally spend caring for Ella."

These will be drop-in consultation events at United Church on Jewry Street, Winchester on September 20 from 9:30am to 11:30am and at The Swan Inn Hotel on West Street, Alresford on September 29 from 10am to 11.30am.

The public can also make their views known at before October 2.