TWO petitions have failed to save the Rural Tea Room in West Drayton Road, Hillingdon, from closure.

Operated by Hillingdon Autistic Care and Support (HACS), the tea room has provided training and employment for autistic people.

It had its voluntary sector funding, worth £40,000, withdrawn by the council in February and closed for business on March 25.

Petition leaders addressed a hearing in the Civic Centre on Thursday, stressing the beneficial impacts of the loss-making tea room, which is within the Rural Activities Centre.

Also present were employees and customers, as well as a number of Hillingdon Labour councillors.

Labour’s Cllr Sital Punja said: “We must listen to our residents. Our autistic residents are the most recent victims of the Conservative council’s financial mismanagement, following last year's £25m bailout, as it desperately seeks to balance the books.”

Cllr Douglas Mills, Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, who heard the petition, responded: “Hillingdon Council continues to support the great work undertaken by HACS with a £40,000 grant.

“In return, it is able to provide support and assistance to more than 1,100 residents with autism.

“Our opponents' comments about a lack of care for those with autism is not only proved wrong because of our ongoing grant support to HACS, but we are investing in school places for those with educational needs, including autism.

“Calling the investment of new specialist school places a bailout shows Labour don't understand local government finance.”