A DAY centre in Taunton may close before its permanent replacement is ready, Somerset County Council has admitted.

The Six Acres Resource Centre on Roman Road will close its doors on Friday, March 29 as part of wider plans to transform how day services are delivered across Somerset.

The council, working with the social enterprise Discovery, has identified an alternative venue where people with learning disabilities can have “true community inclusion” and be supported.

But officers have admitted there may be a gap in provision for the remaining Six Acres residents while the new venue is secured.

Steve Veevers, the council’s strategic manager for commissioning, told a meeting on Wednesday, March 13 he was happy with Discovery’s performance in this area.

He said: “We are working hard to ensure everyone supported by the Six Acres and Fiveways services has good options to go forward to.

“If we don’t get it right first time, we will go back again and again until we get it right.”

Councillor Bill Revans asked for clarity on Six Acres, saying: “It’s suggested there’s another venue in Taunton that’s been identified.

“Will that be available at the closure of Six Acres or will there be an interim, and what will that look like?”

Mr Veevers responded: “Discovery is in advanced discussions with a new community venue in Taunton.

“There might be a gap, and what we are looking at is for alternative community venues where people can be supporting during that gap.”

Mr Veevers said in his written report that the new venue would “give much better community presence” than Six Acres, making people with learning disabilities to feel more included locally.

He said: “We had a gentleman that had been attending Six Acres for over 15 years who was an elective mute.

“Discovery has been helping him to have a greater level of community presence and exploring alternative options.

“Since he has moved away from the large and bustling Six Acres site, he has started speaking for the first time in 12 years, as well as learning a range of new independence skills, including cake baking.”

Of the 96 people who were receiving support at Six Acres when the closure was announced in November 2018, only 40 are still being looked after by Discovery.

None of the other 56 people are being supported by Discovery, but each of them is now receiving alternative support.

Councillor Hazel Prior-Sankey, who chairs the committee, was concerned a new venue may not be ready in time.

She said: “We’ve had Six Acres declared as surplus, it’s closing, yet we haven’t got a replacement in place. That seems quite crackers.

“If it’s not yet been agreed and signed off, it may yet fall through. It seems like undue haste.”

Councillor Jane Lock added: “How often do we here about continuity of service? This sounds like a terrible situation.”

Stephen Chandler, the council’s director of adult services, said he could not discuss the negotiations around the new Taunton venue in public because they were commercially sensitive.

He added: “What people find as difficult as anything is the uncertainty. As we get closer to the end, there is less and less people in services, and that in itself can be distressing for people.

“The transformation of day services is one of our key priorities in changing support for people with learning disabilities, and we really do need to get on with this.

“We are happy to provide the scrutiny committee with a confidential briefing on where the venue is and what our timing is.

“The last thing I want to do is to enter into an interim arrangement unnecessarily.”