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‘It’s a disgrace!’

By MIG: Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: October 16, 2013

Leek Day Centre which is facing closure

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PROPOSALS are being made by Staffordshire County Council to close Leek Day Centre.

The centre, (pictured), which is situated on the first floor of the former Roche Mill building on the corner of Weston Street and Buxton Road, is set to close its doors in January next year.

The closure come just 12 months after the Conservative run county council closed Leek Nursery which was on the ground floor.

The decision to close the centre has been described by Leek South Labour county and district councillor, Charlotte Atkins, as an asset stripping exercise in a bid to sell off the building.

She said: "For years the county council has been running down this excellent centre which has been a vital life line for so many families.

"New referrals have been stopped so the county council could claim that the centre is no longer needed.

Nothing could be further from the truth as we have a rapidly ageing population in Leek.

"A few years ago the centre was all packed up and ready to move to purpose built facilities at Kniveden.

"That decision was reversed. But those modern facilities still lie empty and mothballed. That is an absolute disgrace when people in Leek are in such need.

"Unfortunately the fate of the centre was sealed when last year the day nursery on the lower floor was closed. No doubt the county will sell off the building in an asset stripping exercise.

"In early 2010 the county council signed an agreement with Staffordshire Moorlands District Council leader Sybil Ralphs for a centre of excellence for dementia in Leek. We are still waiting over three years on!"

The county council state the closure is due to the poor buildings and the dwindling number of people attending.

Robbie Marshall, Staffordshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: "As a county council we are committed to providing the best service possible for older people and the reality is that the Leek and Cheadle centres are underused and no longer fulfil the requirements of residents.

"Both buildings are in poor condition and as attendance has dwindled we feel they no longer provide the best environment to support people.

"Cheadle has a capacity for 25, but on average only nine people attend and in Leek there is room for 30 people, but on average it is less than half full.

"As demonstrated by the falling attendance many people feel the centre no longer benefits them and feel more tailored, flexible support, better suits their requirements in 2013.

"Over the coming weeks we will be working with those who use the day centres and their families to find alternative support in the community."

Leek Town mayor John Fisher said he was very sad to hear the news.

He said: "This is another nail in closing the services provided by the county council. I take my hat off to organisations that have taken on the roles by the cuts which seem endless.

"But the voluntary section can only soak up so much as they are finding difficulty with funding "Staffordshire County Council must make sure funds are available for a replacement service."

In January this year Leek Day Centre celebrated its 25th birthday when service users and their carers enjoyed an afternoon of celebration.

At the occasion several users, aged between 70 and 86, spoke on how going to the centre got them out of the house and how they had made friends, while carers said the day centre was their right arm as it helped them to recharge their batteries and let them go out.

One users told the Post and Times: "I have been coming here for seven years and I do not know what we would do without it.

"There is a real need for this service for the people of Leek and surrounding Moorlands area."

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