DORSET County Council is set to close a home providing residential and respite care for people with learning disabilities two years after spending £4 million on the facility.

The council's cabinet agreed to the closure of Phoenix House in Blandford, despite receiving a petition signed by over 1,000 people voicing their opposition to the closure.

Eleanor Parker, a care assistant at Phoenix House, handed the petition over the council's cabinet member for adult social care Jill Haynes ahead of yesterday's cabinet meeting.

She said that the 1,177 signatures had been collected in around two weeks.

She added: “There is an awful lot of support in Blandford.”

In the meeting, councillors head that Phoenix House, which opened in 2012, was currently underused with only a 26 per cent take up of the respite care side and one long term resident at the facility which can accommodate ten residents.

The home costs over £1million a year to run and members were told that the closure would result in a saving of £650,000.

Cllr Haynes stressed that the respite service would still be provided elsewhere and that the NHS would provide care for the long term resident of Phoenix House.

She said: “The most important thing we have to do here is separate the building from the provision of the service.

“We will continue to provide the service, this is about a building that isn't working.

“The service is a good service that we provide and we will continue to provide that.”

Councillors Barrie Cooper and Janet Dover both spoke out at the meeting to support those fighting the closure of Phoenix House, stressing its value to those that used the home.

Cllr Cooper said: “Phoenix House was built to accommodate young people with more complex needs and who is to say we won't need that facility in the future.”

He added: “If Phoenix House is to close it would be a grey day for Dorset.”

Head of specialist adult services Glen Gocoul said that since the decision to build Phoenix House was made in 2009, the national and local approach towards care provision had changed with more emphasis on helping people to live in the community through supported housing.

Director for adult and community services Catherine Driscoll pointed out that the £4million cost of the facility was made up of the building itself and fitting it out with equipment.

She said that the equipment would be retained by the county council for use in other facilities.