Bucks County Council operated Thrift Farm under threat of closure

A centre for adults with learning difficulties based between Buckingham and Milton Keynes is under threat of closure.

Thursday, 24th January 2019, 11:02 am
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 6:48 pm
Library image showing visitors at Thrift Farm

A report is due to be published tomorrow (Friday) outlining future plans for the centre, which has been operating for more than 40 years.

As well as being a centre that supports adults with learning difficulties by giving them skills to hopefully help them find employment, the centre is also open to the public and is a popular location for family days out.

A Bucks County Council statement said: "We can confirm that a report about the future of Thrift Farm is scheduled to be considered by the council’s cabinet on February 4 and it will be published on our website tomorrow (Friday)."

This newspaper understands that Bucks County Council held meetings with users of the centre and their parents/carers earlier this week.

The report published tomorrow is likely to say that there are three options for Bucks County Council regarding the future of the site in Whaddon.

The recommendations are likely to be that no action is taken, to close the farm or to find a private cash injection.

At one of the meetings this week it is believed that a user of the centre, who has downs syndrome stood up and said that he lost his father several years ago and also recently lost his mother with whom he lived.

The user then went on to say his mother had got him into Thrift Farm and that he loved the facility as much as he loved his mother.

It is reported that the councillor chairing the meeting told him to put his story in writing.

A campaigner against any closure of Thrift Farm, who was at one of the meetings told this paper: "In my opinion, the councillors were poorly briefed and were not prepared for the reaction and strength of feeling about this issue.

"When users were outlining their circumstances the council kept saying they understood concerns before saying the facility needed to pay its way.

"I thought the meeting was badly handled because the general public were not invited to attend.

"Apparently they are looking for business ideas - they have had two that have not got off the ground - how can you expect ordinary people to come up with those?"

A petition calling on Thrift Farm to be saved has attracted around 1,500 signatures at the time of writing.

Petition organiser Nicola Lake said: "The lives of young people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, the constant battles to fight for their rights, for care, compassion and education for our more treasured possessions are out there in the public domain.

"How dare Bucks County Council even think they can make such decisions or even consider them without understanding our young people, without meeting face to face.

"I am asking that everyone who has ever had a positive experience at Thrift, or the families of those with additional needs, or just anyone who has the compassion to help others, please sign this petition."