A GRIEVING family who lost their severely autistic son have today hit out at controversial plans to close down the McPherson Centre.

Devastated parents Eleanor and Brian Gillan told how the centre in Gourock was a lifeline for 30-year-old Gary, who had a number of complex needs. 

They say they are heartbroken at a decision by health and social care bosses to shut the McPherson Centre and move all the adults who go there to the Fitzgerald Centre in Greenock instead.

The couple, together with their younger son Paul, say they fear about the future of services for adults with learning disabilities.

They have spoken out in support of Gourock mum Patricia Arthur, whose 22-year-old son Thomas attends the McPherson Centre every day.

She is campaigning to keep the facility open.

Eleanor, of Old Inverkip Road, said: “The McPherson Centre staff were wonderful to Gary and to us.

“He went there for 12 years and Lilybank before that.

“I just don’t understand why you would close a centre like this.

“I worry for all the parents who have children in Craigmarloch School. 

“I feel like we have to speak up to save services for adults with learning disabilities.

“I feel they are decimating services for the most vulnerable people in our community.

“There are people who are too scared to say anything and there are adults who go to the centres and they don’t have anyone.

“We know parents who did not know what was happening.”

Eleanor, Brian and their younger son Paul, were devastated when Gary died suddenly in January 2016.

He had severe autism, sclerosis and a heart murmur.

Eleanor added: “This is hard for us, we are still grieving for our son. 

“But we want to speak up for people who don’t have a voice.”

The decision to close the centre and move all the adults to the Fitzgerald is part of a service ‘redesign’ which will save £500,000 and includes a review of all care packages.

Dad Brian said: “It is there in black and white in the report from the council themselves.

“They are saving money by doing this.

“That is the same as a cut.

“We are told by councillors that they are going to protect the most vulnerable. 

“Well I am asking them, what are they going to do about this?”

A council spokesman said: “It is important to stress that no services are being cut nor are any services being reduced.

“We are working closely with service users, families and carers through Your Voice and an advisory group to hear their views.

“Service users will continue to receive support based on their individual needs.”