A PUBLIC consultation exercise is set to begin over controversial plans to axe a number of respite units in Lancashire.

Social service chiefs insist that several units are not equipped to deal with the most seriously disabled youngsters.

And as part of proposals to hack £3million from the respite care budget, county council officials plan to close between four and six sites.

Those under threat include Hargreaves House in Oswaldtwistle, Burnley’s Reedley Cottages and Long Copse at Chorley.

Newly-built units would take their place, if current proposals go ahead, with the favoured locations being either Accrington or Nelson, and Preston or Chorley, if only two units remain, and Morecambe, Lancaster, south Wyre and West Lancashire if four are required.

Campaigners in East Lancs have already voiced strong objections to any moves to close Hargreaves House.

County Hall bosses are already bracing themselves for at least some unease over the plans, which will be the subject of public debate over the next 12 weeks.

Helen Denton, the county council’s executive director for children’s services, said in a report: “Parents will of course express concern about potential increases to travel time for children and young people with complex needs resulting from reducing the number of units and this is clearly an important factor to take into account.”

Under the proposed scheme short breaks for children with disabilities would still take place, and trained carers will be provided for some overnight breaks.