A PETITION opposing the closure of the Douglas Arter Centre has been signed by almost 1,000 people.

It was launched by a group of families whose severely disabled relatives are cared for at the residential home in Odstcok Road.

The mental health charity Scope wants to close the centre and give the residents “more choice” about where they live.

Charity bosses say the kind of care provided by the Douglas Arter Centre is “old fashioned” and they are looking at closing 11 of their 32 care homes across the country.

The move has sparked an angry reaction from parents who formed a protest group and this week launched the petition to show the strength of feeling against the closure.

“I think this shows how strongly people feel about it and how badly they feel that Scope is treating the residents and their parents, who are devastated by this,” said Merrin Holroyd from the group.

“People are also scared about the future.

“There are no other homes like it for people to go to. People will continue to be born with disabilities but what if there is nowhere for them to go?

“It is heartening that so many people are supporting us, each time I open the petition, more people have signed up.

“We have to fight this because it is so wrong.”

The group has teamed up with campaigners who fought to save the Hillcote respite home for disabled teenagers and together they are planning a balloon launch and publicity campaign in Salisbury city centre next month.

Jayne Kilgallen, Scope’s regional director for south services said: “We completely understand why the proposal to close the Douglas Arter Centre has caused a lot of concern for residents and their families, and want to assure everyone that we have made this proposal following a great deal of consideration.

“Over the years, we have spoken to the families at the Douglas Arter Centre about our commitment to supporting disabled people to live as independently as possible. Living independently doesn’t necessarily mean living on your own, but it does mean having a choice about things like who you live with, how you are supported by staff, and how you use your personal budget to pay for the things you want. Many disabled people – including those with very complex needs – have been successful supported to live independently.

“Before we make a decision about the future of the service, we will listen and talk with residents, their families and staff about the future.”

You can find the petition at change.org and searching for Scope.