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Closed December 2006

Closed in the face of unanimous local opposition

Spelthorne Day Centres Campaign

Day Centre Campaign Update - August 2006

Caroline Nichols Benwell day centre regulars outside Churchill Hall

Caroline Nichols viewing Churchill Hall, Sunbury with Benwell day centre regulars. The hall will be the temporary home for the day centre in 2007.

Persistent questioning by local campaigner Caroline Nichols has revealed the truth behind Spelthorne's recent 'Bulletin Special' on Older People's services. She is challenging Conservative-controlled Spelthorne to improve upon its latest plans.

The Bulletin Special says, 'The Council cannot sustain the cost of running five day centres for a relatively small number of people while, at the same time, responding to the need for extra care housing and a larger Meals on Wheels and SPAN (Spelthorne personal alarm network) service.'

The facts show otherwise. In a written reply to Caroline Nichols, Spelthorne Council admits that SPAN needs 'no further funding'. In fact, users are charged for the service so any expansion of SPAN makes money for the Council. The extension of the meals-on-wheels service to seven days a week would cost the council only a few thousand pounds a year - less than a tenth of the money 'saved' from closing the Benwell and Stanwell Day Centres.

Caroline Nichols commented, 'Spelthorne is simply catching up on the service levels provided by other councils. The changes are so modest that they could be provided without taking money from the day centres.'

She added, 'The inclusion of extra-care housing as a cost reason for closing the day centres is also a red herring. Spelthorne has to find four more sites in addition to Sunbury's new Beechwood Court; but construction is funded from housing association and new government money so cost is not an issue.

Extra-Care Housing

Caroline Nichols has seen Council plans which identify Ashford and Stanwell as the priority areas for extra-care housing; no further scheme was meant for Sunbury.

She said, 'Extra-care housing for the Benwell site was a last-ditch attempt by the Tories to head off widespread and justified public criticism of their plan to sell the site. Sadly, their revised scheme is half-baked. A 36-flat development is more than twice the desirable density for extra-care homes, and the proposed community room is too small to satisfy Sunbury's continuing need for a day centre on the site.'

The Council hopes that selling the two day centre sites will raise £2m - money for general funds, not for Older Peoples Services.

Day Centre Campaign Update - May 2006

At a meeting on the 27th April Spelthorne Council decided the fate of the Stanwell and Benwell Day Centres. The outcome of the meeting was:

These proposals came out less than two weeks before the date for the final Council vote and there was no real opportunity allowed for community consideration. Spelthorne Liberal Democrats opposed these proposals because we do not believe that they are in the best interests of the local community. The main reasons why we cannot agree with the Conservative Council's plans are:

Benwell Centre in Sunbury

Benwell Centre

Benwell Centre

Stanwell Centre

Stanwell Day Centre

Stanwell Centre

Councillor Colin Strong, the Liberal Democrat Leader of the Opposition, proposed that a decision should be postponed to allow for a proper consideration of the proposals and full local consultation. This sensible and reasonable suggestion was rejected out of hand by the Tory Councillors, voting as a block.

The Council Meeting of 27th April and the Voting Record

Over 400 people attended the Council meeting on the 27th April. Because of the huge public interest, the Council meeting had to be moved to Spelthorne Leisure Centre. Many local residents spoke against the proposals and a 1,100 signature petition, organised by the Spelthorne Liberal Democrats, was presented by local campaigner Caroline Nichols (see link below for details).

No one, other than the Tory Councillors, expressed any approval of the proposals.

At the Council meeting there were a number of Tory absentees. Also three Tory Councillors declared that they had an interest in the issue that prevented them from voting. All the Tories who were present and voting cast their votes in favour of the proposals. Not a single one expressed any concern or dissent from the official Tory Party line as dictated by the Leader and Executive. All the Liberal Democrat Councillors voted against the plans and spoke against them.

What Happens Now?

Despite overwhelming local rejection of the proposals, the Tory plans have been approved and will be implemented. Local Liberal Democrats intend to continue to campaign to try and get the best possible outcome on the unresolved issues, notably the plans for Benwell and the new facility in Stanwell.

We will continue to keep you informed about major developments and do whatever we can to campaign for a better, fairer and sustainable Spelthorne.

Official Council website on the proposals

Petition presented to Council Meeting on 27th April 2006

The Campaign to Oppose the Closures

Benwell meeting 2

Many local groups have joined together to oppose Day Centre closure

A number of local residents groups have joined together to oppose the closure of Day Centres. Local Liberal Democrat supporters are active within the campaign, but we do not want to politicise something that is so widely opposed from all parts of the community.

All the local LibDem Councillors are actively fighting the proposals and are absolutely committed to voting against ANY proposal that would result in the loss of any of the Day Centres.

Benwell meeting 1

Public Meeting at Benwell Day Centre on 4th February

More than 300 people turned up to protest at the closure of the Benwell Day Centre. Presentations were made by a number of local groups and questions and points were raised by the attendees. All the local councillors attended (with one exception and he sent his apologies) to listen to people's views.

Local Conservative leaders Gerry Ceasar and Frank Davies did speak to set out the reasons for the proposal, but they failed to convince any of the members of the public who attended.

Many different points of view were expressed against the service cuts with a lot of passionate expressions of concern.

LibDem Councillors at Tesco protest

LibDem Councillors join in Day Centre protest at Tesco in Sunbury

Public meeting at Stanwell Day Centre on 25th February

Feelings ran high at a public meeting held in the Stanwell day centre. A number of people expressed the view that the consultation was not genuine and that the decision to close the centres has already been made.

Only a couple of local Conservative Councillors were able to attend and they were left in no doubt about how concerned people are about the loss of these vital centres. Some members of the public thought that the plan to cut the centres was to allow Spelthorne BC to sell the land for development and release cash for other purposes.