RESIDENTS and co-workers at a North Yorkshire village for learning disabled adults have taken part in a peaceful protest about proposed changes to their way of life.

Dozens of Botton villagers and the volunteer carers they share their lives with handed over petitions to Camphill Village Trust and North Yorkshire County Council offices today (Tuesday, February 10) while singing songs and holding placards aloft.

The petition urges CVT – the charity that runs Botton village – and the authority to allow residents to continue to live in a family setting, rather than with paid carers - which the trust say is how many other CVT sites are successfully run.

The protest follows the resignation of co-worker and CVT trustee Ian Bailey – who said he disagreed with the line taken by the trust on the future of CVT villages.

Outside Northallerton’s County Hall Dan Francis, a resident of Botton for eight years, said: “I love it in Botton but what’s happening with CVT is very upsetting.”

James Skinner, Botton resident for around nine years, added: “I like having co-workers because they stay the same – they are our friends and they are what make Botton good.”

A spokesman for CVT said: “Camphill Village Trust has no plans to move people we support in Botton in the immediate future, unless they express a desire to do so.

“Our focus is to make sure that people with learning disabilities and their families get the support they need at this time of change.”

Former co-worker of another CVT village Mr Bailey said: “I tend to agree with the general impression that the CVT team entered this dialogue with no genuine intent to find a win-win solution.

“I think a very mistaken and wrong position has been taken.”

A CVT spokesman added: “Ian was both a trustee of the charity and a co-worker at one of the charity’s communities. This inevitably meant there was a conflict of interest for him in relation to many decisions necessary to meet the explicit requirements of the Charity Commission and HMRC.”

A spokeswoman for NYCC said: “The council is aware the management changes proposed by the Camphill Village Trust have aroused some controversy. We will note and acknowledge the petition.

“The safeguarding and welfare of residents is our paramount concern and we expect residents to be able to articulate their views freely without undue influence from any other parties.”