THE future of Torbay's refuge for victims of domestic abuse hangs in the balance.
Torbay Council is looking at introducing an 'emergency accommodation model'.
The fate of the refuge, which has seven rooms for victims fleeing abuse, will be decided on October 17 after a period of consultation.
But Martin Oxley, supported housing director of Westward which provides the accommodation, said: "We oppose Torbay Council's proposal.
"Refuges supported 180,000 women and their children nationally last year.
"Some victims have to move to other areas for safety and so it is vital to have this national network of domestic abuse services.
"As part of that network, the Torbay refuge provides safe and secure accommodation, confidentiality and anonymity, and support for victims and children from experienced, specialist domestic abuse trained staff.
"The refuge is welcomed by the wider community as a response to domestic abuse.
"With the closure of the refuge, there is an increased risk women and children will remain in dangerous situations.
"We believe that what Torbay Council proposes is unclear, untested, poor value for money and not based on supporting evidence."
Caroline Taylor, the council's director of adult services, said: "Staff at the refuge offer support to women at flexible times.
"However, this is not available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"Emergency accommodation is also available to victims of domestic abuse through our housing needs and options service.
"The proposal which we are consulting on is to change the accommodation provision from a refuge model to an emergency accommodation model.
"The reasons for the proposed change are to provide equity of service to women and children fleeing domestic abuse in terms of the initial advice they receive prior to placement and women with more complex needs and to provide greater value for money for the local authority by delivering emergency accommodation linked to specialist outreach support.
"The consultation closes on September 18. All organisations will be provided with details of the proposals along with a set of questions for response.
"Consultation with women will take the form of focus groups so the proposals can be communicated and to enable the council to gauge their views about their proposal and what they feel any potential impacts might be."