A SCHEME supporting people with learning disabilities has been hailed as a beacon for the future.
Cornwall councillor Simon Rix, who represents the Bugle ward, praised the People and Gardens scheme at Watering Lane, near Pentewan, following a visit on Friday.
His words come as concerns grow around Cornwall Council preparations to make massive cuts to its adult and social care budget in a bid to balance its books in the face of the amount of government money it will receive for the next spending year.
Mr Rix, chairman of the health and social care portfolio advisory committee, was joined by St Austell and Newquay MP, Stephen Gilbert, to see the work of the horticultural social enterprise.
People and Gardens founder Ken Radford was awarded a British Empire Medal – (BEM) for his services to people with learning disabilities in the New Year's Honours List last week.
Mr Rix said Mr Radford's BEM was "great recognition" for the huge difference the scheme makes to those who join it.
He said as the authority moved to make budget savings it would need to look at "different ways of providing services" and "not just carry on doing the same things in the same way".
"Organisations such as People and Gardens could show us how to do things more cost-effectively and better. I want to see the best services, such as People and Gardens, protected and expand."
Mr Gilbert said he was delighted to visit the scheme and congratulated Mr Radford on his award. He said: "He has shown what great results can come from the outlay of a little time and effort and I was delighted to support the work that he does in helping people of all abilities lead fulfilling lives."
Mr Radford said everyone at the scheme was delighted by the efforts the MP and Mr Rix had made to learn about their work.
"Everybody is concerned about the cuts but we just don't know what's going to happen until it happens," he said.