FEARS a respite home for disabled children could close have resurfaced after a council announced plans to scale back its services.

Essex County Council has told parents one of the flats at Lavender House, in New Farm Road, Stanway, is set to close.

This will leave the service with one property, or four beds, to cater for 33 families in the area and has left parents worried about the future of the service.

Lorraine Woodhouse’s son Aiden, who has severe autism and developmental delay, spends four days a month at Lavender House.

She has helped organise a campaign to save the service which has the backing of a 1,000-name petition. Parents will also be demonstrating outside County Hall later this month.

When Aiden, 12, stays at Lavender House on a week day he is collected from and taken to Hillside Special School in Sudbury - giving his parents some times up to three days respite at a time.

Without this, Mrs Woodhouse, of Wormingford, says she is not sure how they would manage.

She said: “At Lavender House they know Aiden and they know what his exact needs are.

“I think if we did not have the four days at Lavender House, it would be a struggle.

“I do not know if we would be able to cope without it.

“If push comes to shove and the services are taken away, it becomes a difficult situation for us.”

In 2014, Lavender House was saved from closure when “no other plans could be put in place” by the county council.

Mrs Woodhouse said parents were concerned County Hall was slowly moving towards shutting the facility, which cares for children between seven and 18 who have learning difficulties or are disabled.

Essex County Council said one flat would still provide enough capacity to meet demand.

Dick Madden, councillor responsible for children and families, added the number of families which use residential respite care had fallen.

He said: “In light of reduced demand we are reviewing the respite currently provided at Lavender House.

“Having two fully-staffed flats which are open but under-used is not ideal and limits our ability to develop other services for parents.

“We are considering whether to provide half the number of beds which still allows us to maintain our current level of operation and offer short breaks for all families receiving care at Lavender House.

“No families will be left worse off as a result of this change and there are no current plans to close Lavender House.”

The council said any savings would be “minimal” and the move was not a financial decision.

Mr Madden added: “Staff at the centre and families using the service have been informed about these plans and we continue to engage with special schools in the area and the Essex Family Forum to address any concerns they may have.

“Our priority is to continue providing a high quality, efficient and responsive respite service that supports children and young people to thrive.”