A DAY care centre for adults with learning disabilities is being closed by the county council.

But Maria Barnett, who works at the centre based at the Ryefield Centre in Ross-on-Wye, is determined to keep a similar service available in the market town.

She has stepped forward to set up her own day care centre as she strongly believes the service is needed in that part of Herefordshire.

Speaking to Ross Town Council on Monday night she said the focus has mainly been on the children's centre at the Ryefield Centre, which could be moved to Ross library under council plans.

But she said: "That is only half of the story. The other half of the building is used by Herefordshire Council for adults with learning difficulties. It has been a centre for years, if not decades even. We have had a lot of people there for a very long time.

"What has happened, Herefordshire Council had four day centres in Herefordshire: Leominster, Widemarsh hub, St Owen's, and ours. Three years ago they were handed over to the Brandon Trust, which ran the four day centres."

This contract has come to an end and two other charities have taken over the centres in Hereford and Leominster, but the charity which had taken the Ross centre over declined to do so at the last minute. She said the Ross centre is being closed completely.

Maria added: "The people there have been there for decades and they have known each other all their lives. It has been a really traumatic thing for us. What has happened since is myself and two other colleagues are opening a day centre in Ross-on-Wye area. We have applied and are in the process of becoming a Community Interest Company.

"We have now secured premises. We are moving on fairly rapidly."

She said the new centre will not be open before the Ryefield Centre closes, and in the meantime service users will need to go to other centres in the county otherwise they will lose all their access to services.

Maria said volunteers are needed at the new centre. To help email mariabarnett@sky.com.

A Herefordshire Council spokesman said: "The day activities for adults with learning disabilities at The Ryefield Centre in Ross-on-Wye will continue to run, whilst the council works with those using the service to find alternative activities for them.

"Herefordshire Council has a flexible framework of providers which deliver day activities and we will support any new provider looking to register on the approved framework.

"The council welcomes and supports innovation from the community, especially if it enables residents to live safe, healthy and independent lives, in line with our corporate priorities."