Bognor Regis campaigners fight against county cuts

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Vulnerable adults from Bognor Regis have begun their fight for justice.

Andrew Pickthall and Paul Ford are among five individuals who have started a quest for a judicial review into a ‘mismanaged’ public consultation on cuts in care.

The protestors, dubbed the Famous Five, have announced they will oppose West Sussex County Council plans to stop funding for some 4,500 people regarded as having moderate care needs.

Led by the Don’t Cut Us Out campaign group, they have instructed London law firm Birdmans to investigate the merits of a judicial review.

Andrew, 32, has down syndrome and has attended the Aldingbourne Trust’s country centre, in Norton, four days a week since he was 18.

With the trust’s help, he lives independently in a one-bed flat in Bognor.

He said: “I love going to the centre. They are like my family.”

Andrew could suffer a double blow if the council’s cuts go ahead because his flat tenancy is linked to the support he receives.

Sue Livett, the trust’s managing director, said the mood at the centre was one of trepidation.

“Everyone is aware things are going to change, but they do not know what the changes will be and this is causing great distress,” she said

Andrew and Paul were at the campaign’s launch on Tuesday, March 29, at Ferring Country Centre.

The others involved in the legal fight are Ron Mawson from Chichester, and Patrick Smythe and Martin Hunt from Worthing.

Spokesman Barry Pickthall said the group’s case was based on seven legal points.

The campaign wants a judicial review to see whether the council has followed the law and its policies properly and if it acted fairly and rationally and consulted according to public law principles.

The decision by the county council’s cabinet member for adults services Peter Catchpole to remove care benefits from those in moderate need brings the council into line with nearly 80 per cent of English local authorities and is due to take effect from tomorrow.

The council will focus on those with substantial and critical needs in a bid to save £79m over the next three years.