Crowds of people with learning disabilities and their carers are set to lobby Lewisham's mayor on Wednesday not to cut social care services and instead target the council's astonishing £248m debts.

Sir Steve Bullock will decide where the axe falls at a Mayor and Cabinet meeting in Catford town hall, with proposals that would see day centres turned into community hubs and reduce the council's door to door service - cuts originally delayed from a February meeting.

However, it was recently revealed that the council has debts of £450m, of which £248m relates to so-called Private Finance Initiatives - projects where the private sector pays up front costs for expensive projects and are then paid back, plus interest, over several years.

Those debts relate to the refurbishment of 1,800 Brockley properties, the rebuild of Downham Leisure Centre, street lighting replacements and school building. Campaigners are now calling for Sir Steve to refinance those agreements rather than cut further services.

Nick O'Shea from Lewisham Mencap said: "What shocked us even more is that the average - not the highest, just the average - rate of interest is 10.3 per cent. So that's £25m a year, just on interest payments.  

"That is ten times the amount he is going to save from making these severe cuts to services and we think this is disgraceful.

"We are calling on the mayor to refinance the loans and use the money saved to protect services."

Joy Rugman, 55, of Durham Hill, Downham, is a full time carer for her brother John who has Down Syndrome and has come to rely on the Leemore Centre.

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She explained: "Currently he gets five days a week there and gets picked up at 9am and is brought back at 4pm.

"I have those seven hours, Monday to Friday, where I can do what I need to do without him and have a bit of my own time. Normally, I've got nobody to be with him here if I need to pop out for a pint of milk. It's quite full on."

Ms Rugman, who has helped set up a support group for parents and carers, said people were mainly concerned about safety, with plans to give carers personalised budgets, transferring more responsibility to them. 

But she said carers are fearful about putting vulnerable people in cabs or buses if the door to door service is cut back.

She said: "For me personally, I can't just put him in a cab. If someone's vulnerable, you can't expect a cab driver to understand the practicalities."

Ms Rugman went on: "The assessments by the council have only just been done. We don't know what budget we're got and how many days that will buy us.

"Some people have got two children with a disability, they work or are getting older. They could do with a bit more help - not more pressure."

Lewisham Council needs to make savings of £85m over three years, blaming government austerity for the cuts.

A spokesman for Lewisham Council wouldn't comment ahead of the meeting but said on PFI: "The council has a number of long-term financing contracts that have provided the means to invest in schools, leisure, street lighting and homes. 

"We keep these deals under continual review and they continue to provide value for money. It would not be cost effective under current conditions to refinance any of these contracts."

For more details visit the Parents & Carers Group Lewisham Day Centres Facebook page.