Parents of disabled children that use Sam’s place were given reassurance that the facility will remain free to access in Harlow Labour Council’s budget last week,

Sam’s Place, located at the Harlow Field’s School, provides respite care for the parents of children with severe disabilities It also provides a safe space for those children to socialise and to take part in a multitude of activities such as arts and crafts, cooking skills and music lessons.  To those who use it, and to their parents, it is a vital resource and one which has, since opening, been provided to parents free of charge.

Councillor Chris Vince, who championed the cause of Sam’s place said “It was disappointing that Essex County Council, who tender out the service, approached Harlow District Council last year asking for parents to be charged for the use of Sam’s Place. Their argument  was that similar services in other parts of Essex are not free to use.

“We refused to begin charging and argued back that access to a vital service like this should not be dependent on whether parents have the money to pay for it, and  that actually other local authorities should step up and take the same approach as Harlow; levelling up, not levelling down.

“In the face of our opposition, just before Christmas, Essex County Council agreed to delay any decision on charging for Sam’s place until September, after the County Council elections. In our budget last night we set aside funds that will meet any charging costs should Essex make the wrong choice.

“This Labour led administration believes that Sam’s Place should stay free of charge for those who really need it and we are prepared to act to make sure it does.”

Cllr Chris Vince is the Portfolio holder for Community and Wellbeing

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