THREE Torbay community centres for people with special needs could be closed.
But people with learning disabilities who use them, and their carers, have been reassured if they do close, the services provided will be replaced in new, purpose-built centres.
The future of Hollacombe Community Resource Centre in Torbay Road, Preston, Paignton, Torquay Community Resource Centre in Lincombe Hill and Fairwinds Special Development Centre in Preston Down Road, Preston, Paignton, is being examined as part of the on-going consultation on the future of the learning disability services.
Torbay Care Trust has been organising a series of consultation events under the banner Getting a Life, Not Just a Service.
Changes proposed include more employment support and training for work; new or improved day opportunities for those with complex needs; new community centres; individual contracts for residential care; more support for those living at home; more choice in short breaks and individuals having more financial control of how services are provided.
The budget for learning disability is around £8.6million. Of that Torbay Care Trust spends £2.5million on services it provides itself.
Hollacombe costs £724,000, Torquay CRC £389,9000 and Fairwinds £422,000.
The centres are also costing £250,000 a year in maintenance.
Torbay Care Trust disability head Helen Toker-Lester emphasised the aim of the consultation was not to cut the budget, but they did not have extra money to spend.
They hoped to raise funds to pay for the new community centres from selling off buildings like Hollacombe.
But with the credit crunch, there was currently no timetable for making the changes.
Ms Toker-Lester explained they were reacting to changes, both in national policy on disability learning services and changes among the kind of people being cared for in Torbay.
She said: "The consultation is going well. We want to be really transparent and have spoken to lots of people.
"Within Torbay we have reached a natural point where we need to be redesigning services for the changing needs of our future clients.
"We have more children surviving into adulthood with some very complex disabilities because of medical advances. A lot of our buildings were also developed in the 60s and 70s. We are getting to the point where we have to look at purpose-built facilities.
"Expectations are also changing, and we want to make sure we support carers effectively. For example, there are 100 families in the area with older carers.
"It is important people are not segregated from society, and the groups do some excellent things like gardening at Cockington and wheelchair ice skating at Plymouth.
"The centres are important for making sure people have things like physiotherapy, but at the same time we want people to be able to get out and about.
"For example, we want to provide prone changing facilities for adults and larger children. The nearest is in Drake's Circus, Plymouth. We are aiming to provide one at the Paignton library hub," said Ms Toker-Lester.
"We have met with the associations for Occombe House and Fairwinds and while everyone gets concerned about change, they are very keen to work with us in terms of developing the complex needs services. If we get to the point of tendering for new services they also want to be involved in that."
The consultation is expected to end in February and a series of recommendations will go to both Torbay Care Trust and Torbay Council.
It is estimated there are around 1,250 adults with disabilities or complex needs in the resort, and more than 2,100 children and young people.