£40,000 pledged to help autism services

OSSA users fought a long campaign to save the service.
OSSA users fought a long campaign to save the service.

North Lanarkshire Council has pledged £40,000 towards ongoing services for autism.

This comes after the council refused to continued funding the One Stop Shop for Autism (OSSA) in Motherwell when Scottish Government money came to an end.

As part of a transition plan agreed between the council, Scottish Government and HOPE for Autism, the money will fund the transfer of two OSSA staff to HOPE for Autism, with additional short-term funding provided by the Government.

Council leader Jim Logue said: “I understand the campaigners who wished to see OSSA continue are disappointed by its closure.

“But it is essential that properly integrated services are available for children and adults with autism and OSSA did not meet that requirement.

“Everyone has to focus on the essential transition to other services and I’m pleased we have been able to provide this funding and also lead discussions between all the relevant agencies to achieve a transition plan.

“Councillors on all sides of the chamber have made their views clear and I would like to pay particular tribute to Councillor Paul Kelly, who led the strategic talks, and Councillor Pat O’Rourke, who has direct family experience of the issues involved.

“Councillors David Baird, Steven Bonnar and Rosa Zambonini should also be recognised in their contribution to the debate and their hard work in pressing the council for a solution.

“We will now make sure that there is a successful transition for OSSA service users, with full recognition of their needs.

“This funding goes a long way towards securing that.”

At the full council on Thursday Councillor Baird put forward a motion which proposed the council continue funding OSSA using £75,000 taken from the contingency fund, however this was defeated by 30 votes to 24.

Councillor Baird said: “The OSSA filled many holes in the provision of services for those with autism that other providers including the council’s own departments don’t, that is why it was so highly valued by its users.

“We wanted to see a holistic approach to the treatment of autism in North Lanarkshire, but it was taken out of our hands and I don’t know where we go from here.

“I hope the transfer of staff to HOPE fills some of the gaps in provision. I don’t think it is enough for parents or councillors, but appears to be the best we are going to get at the moment.”