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Philip Evans


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HONITON: Day centre closure threat

Thursday, 06 March 2014


Proposals to close St Michael’s Day Centre have been met with outrage by Honiton town councillors, who described the plans as ‘disgusting’ and ‘absolute discrimination against the elderly’.
Devon County Council is reassessing its provision of day care services across the county, and St Michael’s is one of 33 centres facing dramatic changes to the way it operates.
The authority, which must find £100 million worth of savings by 2017, is proposing that building based day care services are streamlined, with some forms of support sourced through alternative local providers.
A period of public consultation is underway which lasts until Wednesday, March 19th, and community groups and individuals are encouraged to make their voices heard by responding to the proposals.
Following a meeting last week, Honiton Town Council’s policy committee has established a working group to look into the proposal and produce a recommendation to be put to the town council at its next full meeting on March 10th.
Members of the council’s policy committee were themselves unanimous in their opposition to the plans. Councillor John Zarczynski said: “It is appalling that they should even consider shutting it down.
“The proposal actually goes against their own findings on this – they should be expanding care for the elderly not cutting down.
“Senior citizens have worked their whole lives and paid into the system, and in their hour of need there is no money there for them – it is absolutely disgusting.”
A consultation document produced by DCC states that the majority of clients who use the day centre have a “low level of need” and that referral rates have almost halved since 2011.
The document claims that the centre is underused and points to a range of alternative providers in the town that could be utilised to make day care more cost-effective.
But the document also states that the occupancy rate at St Michael’s is increasing and, though it ‘needs updating’, the building itself is ‘fit for purpose’.
Councillor Roy Coombs highlighted contradictions between the data in the consultation document, and the proposal itself.
He said: “The elderly population is increasing and the occupancy rate at St Michael’s is actually going up, so it is very strange to remove services. This is causing a tremendous amount of worry for a lot of people.”
East Devon District Councillor Mike Allen said DCC had “not looked forward one inch” and the proposals constituted “absolute discrimination against the elderly”.
Councillor Caroline Kolek added that the proposals were ‘short-sighted’ and said DCC had ‘not used their own data’.
To view the proposal and submit a consultation feedback form, visit the Devon County Council website


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