Parents united outside the High Court today to mark the start of a judicial review into a decision to cut funding for a respite centre for disabled children.

The Nascot Lawn case is being reviewed by Justice Mostyn during February 6 and 7 after families who rely on the service questioned whether they were “consulted lawfully” over the plans.

Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (HVCCG) announced last year it intended to stop the £650,000 of funding it previously provided.

Families were left “heartbroken” and say that they were told the centre is expected to close on May 17 but “no alternative” care provision has yet been offered.

Emma Turner, whose 10-year-old daughter Sienna relies on the service due to having “complex needs”, spoke ahead of the hearing this morning.

She said: “We need to make sure this case is heard.

“Respite is important for your mental wellbeing and for you and the rest of your family to have a break.

“It is also important for your children to get away from the same four walls and make friends and gain independence.

“I couldn’t believe the news at first as I did not think I could cope without respite care. There needs to be an alternative in place but there doesn’t seem to be anything else we can turn to.”

Barrister Jennie Richard QC spoke on behalf the side of the claimants during the hearing and told Justice Mostyn there was “no public consultation” held when the HVCCG began the process.

She said there was “nothing in terms of an alternative – do they not have to consult the local authority?”

She added: “Not enough money is never an answer. Every public body in the country is under severe financial pressure but the law is clear and doesn’t mean you can take shortcuts in your decision making process.

“This wasn’t consultation, it was engagement.”

The judge replied: “That seems to me to be splitting hairs.”

Justice Mostyn also highlighted that Nascot Lawn provides nurses to help children with complex needs, unlike other centres around Hertfordshire.

Ms Richard added it is currently anticipated all the children will be “allocated elsewhere within a year”.

However, she said this new respite will be a “reduction”, with many children still waiting a long time.

She said: “Why would you withdraw funding before you know what alternatives will be made?”

Angela Kitching, the mother of three-year-old son Thomas who uses the service, said it was important to question if “all measures taken to ensure the children were going to be safe and families were consulted lawfully”.

Julie Josephs’ son Dominic went to Nascot Lawn for 15 years but now uses services elsewhere as he is over 18 years old.

She said: “If they cut the nurses and we have to call an ambulance because we have no alternative, surely that will put more pressure on a different sector. Will they really by saving money?”