REFUGES for families fleeing domestic abuse will still be axed despite a petition of almost 2,000 signatures calling for them to stay open.
In September last year Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC) voted to close two of its three refuges and cap the number of people from outside the borough using refuge services at 20 per cent.
A paper petition of 1,805 signatures and 110 online signatures were presented by residents at the latest full council meeting, urging CWAC to reconsider these proposals.
The petition said: “These proposals do not recognise the severity of the present situation.
“In view of this we believe that the council has failed to recognise the realities of dealing with the consequences of domestic abuse and must think again.”
At the start of the debate about the issue, Clr Eveleigh Moore Dutton emphasised the council’s view that its focus should shift to early intervention but suggested this should be monitored.
“For too long victims of violence and abuse have suffered too much until escape is their only option,” she said.
“We are committed to working with our partners to reduce this scourge and whenever possible reaching such a stage that a victim’s only alternative is to flee their home.”
She added: “Earlier interventions must be the way ahead.”
Her suggestion that the new arrangements should be closely monitored by the safeguarding scrutiny committee and executive group members was unanimously supported.
CWAC’s Labour group suggested an amendment to keep a minimum of 17 refuge places in west Cheshire, remove the cap on people from outside the area and work with providers to make sure refuges are fit for purpose, but this was lost by 38 votes to 28.