Leader wants to see report

Last week's protest outside Motherwell Civic Centre to try to save the One Stop Shop

Last week's protest outside Motherwell Civic Centre to try to save the One Stop Shop

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North Lanarkshire Council leader Jim Logue wants to see an official report into a support service for autism before he’d consider saving it.

Scottish Autism’s One Stop Shop in Motherwell which has served Lanarkshire for three years closes in June after the Scottish Government ceased funding.

The Scottish Government anticipated North and South Lanarkshire Councils would keep it open, but South has plans to set up its own service, while North provides funding to HOPE for Autism.

The Scottish Government writes an evaluation report for every pilot project which Councillor Logue says he heard was critical of the service.

He said: “There has to be an evaluation report as that is common practice, but no one has seen it, I would have thought if it was complimentary the One Stop Shop would use it to their advantage.

“The fact they haven’t suggests it may not be all that complimentary, and I have been told the report was critical of the practices in the One Stop Shop, if this is the case then why would we put money into such a facility?

“I’m also told when the project was first set up part of the criteria for the grant funding is that over the three year period they would devise a systematic approach of generating funding for themselves and become self financing.

“I’ve seen some of the highly emotive messages from parents and I can understand because autism is a very serious illness and very challenging for parents, but I don’t think the correct way to do business is to be involved with an organisation that appears to have not met the expectations of the Scottish Government and has not made any attempt become sustainable in the medium to long term.”

Amanda Ayton, who son was diagnosed with autism just before Christmas, assured Councillor Logue the service is run well.

She said: “When my son was first diagnosed we felt so alone, the One Stop Shop proved to be such a lifeline and I don’t know what we’d do without it.

“We have only been using the service for a few months, but I want to assure Councillor Logue in that time I have never heard anyone have a bad word to say about it.”

Fellow parent Jennifer Gough added: “I would be utterly astonished if the evaluation report was critical of the One Stop Shop, we’ve all had a great experience.”