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HONITON: Fight to save day centre
Wednesday, 19 March 2014
Community groups in Honiton are rallying together in an effort to save St Michael’s day centre from closure.
Devon County Council is proposing to use more private and voluntary sector provision in the future, and St Michael’s is one of 35 day centres across the county that could face changes.
A petition has been launched by the East Devon Green Party, fronted by Honiton town councillor Sharon Pavey, and representatives from various groups around the town have spoken out against the plans.
Doctors at Honiton Surgery have expressed their discomfort with the plans, as have members of Headway, a support group for people with brain injuries, who regularly use St Michael’s. Around 500 people have already signed the petition.
Councillor Pavey said: “We knew St Michael’s was close to everyone’s hearts but we did not expect this immediate level of support. It just shows that there is such wonderful community spirit in Honiton and we look after our own.
“I think we all know that cutting services like these is extremely short-sighted and will have a direct impact on the health of elderly people. This leads to increased spending on medical care in the long run.
“We hear that levels of dementia are rising and we have a large elderly population, particularly here in East Devon, so where is the common sense in this decision?”
Vic Bowsher, Chair of Honiton Senior Voice, was one of those who signed the petition. He said: “Any reduction in provision could result in people using other services that are not suitable for their needs or having to travel an unacceptable distance to use services in a community that is alien to them.
“The loss of these services can have a real impact on the health of elderly people and the risk of closure also puts increased pressure on carers.
“There are some corners that should be cut and some that should not - it would be an absolute disaster if we were to lose St Michael’s.”
Devon County Council says that it has seen a 66 per cent drop in people using its day centre services since 2005 and that more people are now choosing to pursue other activities during the day.
They also insist there will be no reduction in support to people and everyone eligible for a service will receive it, though this could be through private or voluntary sector initiatives.
But speaking at a town council meeting on Monday (March 10th), Councillor Mike Allen said the county council has an “absolute duty to provide this kind of service”.
Deputy Mayor, Councillor Peter Halse said the issue was a “matter of great concern” for people in Honiton and “unless we shout and shout loudly now”, the centre could be lost.
Councillor Caroline Kolek, who was a member of the council’s working group that looked into day care provision in Honiton, said the council needed to make people realise the closure is not a “foregone conclusion” and that responding to the consultation could have an impact on the final decision.
Councillors subsequently decided to respond to Devon County Council with a report produced by the working group, and a copy of a letter from Dr Daniel Murphy, sent to councillors on behalf of staff and patients at Honiton Surgery.
Petitions are available to sign at Honiton Surgery, the TRIP office in New Street and Wendy’s Cookshop.
There is also an online petition for anyone living in Devon to sign http://freepetition.co.uk/devoncc/Live Petition.aspx
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