'We're not closing down day centres', says council

Stock photo - An older person looks at a mobile phone accompanied by a volunteer

Volunteer-run day centres in Uttlesford are could become "community hubs" under council plans (FILE PHOTO) - Credit: Georg Arthur Pflueger/Unsplash

Day centres will be "re-imagined" in Uttlesford.

The centres, which are run by Uttlesford District Council for people aged over 55, could become "community hubs" or drop-in centres under new plans.

Uttlesford District Council's cabinet heard that the current day centre arrangement in Great Dunmow, Saffron Walden, Stansted Mountfitchet and Thaxted does not meet the community's needs.

The Residents for Uttlesford leadership agreed to use the district's day centre budget, worth £94,500, to create the new "flexible" hubs.

Councillor Richard Freeman, who is responsible for public services in the district, said the centres will adapt to each community's needs.

He said: "Day centres will be brought under local control as nobody knows how to support their communities better than local individuals and organisations.

"There will be flexibility as to how we support the emerging community hubs."

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Cllr Freeman added that the hubs "will function at all sorts of levels".

A picture of The Rowena Davey Centre in Great Dunmow, taken in 2011.

The Rowena Davey Centre, Dunmow, one of four Uttlesford District Council day centres - Credit: Archant

Councillor Colin Day, who is responsible for communities at UDC, said: "There appears to be a feeling within communities that we are going to close day centres.

"I would like it recorded that this is nothing further from the truth. We certainly are not going to close them.

"Coming out of the pandemic, they are more important than ever and that is why they are being termed community centres and drop-in hubs."

Day centres are currently volunteer-run and host meals, refreshments and activities.

A UDC report suggests the centres were poorly used by people aged over 55.

The report notes that a working party set up by the council will set out how each centre could be used ahead of the 2021/22 council budget.

The working party will not rule out keeping the existing arrangement in place.

Councillor Melvin Caton, Liberal Democrat group leader, thanked the cabinet for setting out the community hubs plan and for responding to fears that services for older people would close.

He said: "The Stansted community is working hard to produce a 'reimagined' service, which is being trialled at this very moment.

"I would just like to thank Cllrs Day and Freeman for providing clarity."