Seymour backs purchase of rehabilitation centre from developers

By Will Trafford

Antonia Tua, with son Ronnie, at the protest against the trust’s closure. Photo / Stuff

Act leader David Seymour is putting his weight behind a bid to buy back the Laura Fergusson Trust Epsom site, so it can again operate as a rehabilitation facility for young people with neurological and physical impairments.

The rehab facility was sold off to a developer to build 240 apartments last year but it’s now up for sale again after it ditched the plans due to a slump in real estate.

“The Laura Fergusson Trust has been a safe haven for young people with physical and neurological impairments to receive treatment without having to go to a rest home, as many now are,” Seymour says.

“We want everyone to know the site is for sale again. The trust board, as a cash buyer in a sinking market, should buy it back. Failing that, the government should.”

Epsom MP and Act Leader David Seymour says Laura Fergusson Trust bosses should take advantage of a drop in the real estate market, buy the trust site back and 'go back to doing what the founders raised the money for in the first place.' Photo / NZME

Epsom MP and Act Leader David Seymour says Laura Fergusson Trust bosses should take advantage of a drop in the real estate market, buy the trust site back and 'go back to doing what the founders raised the money for in the first place.' Photo / NZME

Trust chairman Chris O’Brien said at the time the Auckland property was sold as disability research encouraged caring for people in their communities, rather than in a centralised facility.

The trust operates another facility in Christchurch. Seymour says one of the reasons it shut was due to costs.

“The trust says it closed because it had debt, couldn’t afford to fix run-down facilities, and couldn’t get staff,” the Epsom MP said.

“Perhaps it could now get the land and buildings back, pay the debt, and fix up the buildings, some of which are quite new,” Seymour says.

“It could go back to doing what the founders raised the money for in the first place.”

The Laura Fergusson Trust started transitioning hundreds of patients from its care last year. Photo / Stuff

The Laura Fergusson Trust started transitioning hundreds of patients from its care in multiple facilities across the motu last year. Photo / Stuff

The facility has 40 units, a specialist rehabilitation gym and hydrotherapy pool which Seymour and advocates, including former patients, say could be used to "house disabled people right now". 

“This facility helps young people with disabilities. The trust should be doing absolutely everything it can to support them.” Seymour says.

“Young people don’t belong in rest homes.”

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