CONCERNS have been raised after the closure of a ‘vital community service’ in Uttoxeter for elderly people and adults with a physical disability was confirmed.
Following a period of consultation with users and staff at the Steeple View Day Centre in George Elliot Close, Staffordshire County Council has decided to close the centre and transfer the facility back to Trent and Dove Housing Association for communal use by the residents of Highwood Court.
The users of the day centre and their carers will now have to make alternative choices for their day care, something the authority says it will support them in doing.
The centre, which costs around £100,000 a year to run, will close no later than March 31 affecting four members of staff.
Chairman of the Uttoxeter 50 Plus Forum Peter Edginton told the Advertiser the group had been negotiating on behalf of users at Steeple View to keep the service and he was ‘disappointed’ at the decision.
He said: “We had been concerned about the situation up there for many months, certainly since they increased fees to users and people were having to stop going as a result.
“It is the only day centre for the elderly in Uttoxeter run by the local authority so on behalf of the 50 Plus Forum we had been talking to officers for many months trying to save it.
“However, we suspected this was going to happen.
“It is a vital community service for the elderly and the handicapped.
“It is all very disappointing and I suspect this was planned all along to cut costs. It begs the question whether they really care about the elderly.”
The Steeple View Day Centre is a leased property owned by Trent and Dove Housing Association.
The lease was extended in 2011 for one year and then a further six months to March 31 this year.
With the lease for the centre due to expire and the renewal arrangements for 25 years, a break clause in the lease was seen as an opportunity by the county council to release the building.
A report approved by the county council’s cabinet member for adults’ wellbeing, councillor Liz Staples, said: “This break clause represents an opportunity to release the current building for local older people’s community use and enable current and future day opportunity service user’s access to other services offering wider choice and flexibility throughout Uttoxeter and surrounds.
“Within East Staffordshire there is a growing range of day care opportunities and choice for people that supports the county council’s commitment to providing flexible and responsive services that meet people’s needs both now and in the future.
“It is the ongoing ambition to provide further outstanding community-based personalised services that are convenient, effective, affordable and build around strong partnerships.
“With this in mind it is vital we work with people, helping them understand the options and choices available within day care and to this end we have worked with service users to assess their future care needs and how these should best be met.
“The social workers will continue to support people as they change their day care.”