Council to meet autism service users

North Lanarkshire Council accepts it needs to examine its autism strategy
North Lanarkshire Council accepts it needs to examine its autism strategy

North Lanarkshire Council wants to meet with all interested parties to examine the autism strategy for the area.

Earlier this week invitations were extended to staff representatives of Scottish Autism’s One Stop Shop in Motherwell, HOPE for Autism in Airdrie, the Joint Integration Board for health and social care, NHS Lanarkshire and the Scottish Government to form a strategic group.

Today (Friday) it was also decided it would be wise to meet a representative group of service users in the next week to identify and gather detail on potential gaps in provision for people with autism before a wider strategic group meeting to discuss ongoing support.

The One Stop Shop in North Orchard Street is set to close at the start of June after the Scottish Government withdrew funding and thus far North and South Lanarkshire Councils refusing to meet its £155,000 budget.

Councillor Paul Kelly, who will chair the strategic group, said: “We are fully supportive of the people who are campaigning against the closure of OSSA.

“The reason for the closure is that the Scottish Government has withdrawn the funding it has provided and made an assumption that councils will pick up the tab.

“However, in North Lanarkshire we already support another service for those with autism as part of an integrated plan based on the national autism strategy.

“In recent weeks, service users have highlighted that there could be a number of gaps in service provision if OSSA closes.

“Before the strategic group meets it is essential that we capture these views so that they can be fed into the process and so officials will meet with some of the service users to discuss the concerns.”

Council leader Jim Logue questioned why he would save the One Stop Shop when he had not seen a Scottish Government evaluation report.

Scottish Autism say that evaluation report would have to come from the Scottish Government, but chief executive Alan Somerville has personally sent Councillor Logue a copy of an evaluation report the charity commissioned using the Scottish Government’s guidelines.