A FACTORY that employed disabled people before it was shut down last year is now set to be sold off.

The Dorset Enterprises unit in West Howe was closed in March 2013, with Bournemouth council promising to try and find another organisation that would employ a greater number of adults with disabilities on the site. But the council said it has now found a better way of supporting disabled people to work, through the Community Employment Service (CES), and wants to sell the premises for a profit of up to £850,000. Cabinet members will be asked to approve this proposal next Monday.

Labour Cllr Ben Grower, who represents Kinson South, claims the council “never had any intention” of re-using the building.

“The decision to close it down was made over two years ago,” he said. “Everything we’ve been doing since then has just been a public relations exercise to give the impression they were going to try and save it.”

The CES is based in Winton and, in the past 10 years, has helped 930 adults with disabilities or long term health conditions to get a job or training. It can also provide ongoing low-level support to help them maintain their employment.

Cllr Blair Crawford, cabinet member for adult social care, said: “The current model of supported employment is already proving in Bournemouth to be a more cost effective method for providing permanent paid work for people with disabilities compared to the previous model at Dorset Enterprises.

“It is providing a higher quality of support, meeting the needs of the individual and the requirements of prospective employers. It is delivering a service to a much greater number of adults at a lower cost, contributing towards our priority for a more efficient council.”

The cabinet report reveals that only one of the 23 Dorset Enterprises staff remains under the support of the Department of Works and Pensions, the rest have either found alternative employment or been declared unfit for work.