Ashfield District Council leader John Knight criticises day centre cuts

ASHFIELD District Council leader John Knight has slammed a decision by Nottinghamshire County Council to close day centres that cater for the area’s sick, elderly and mentally ill residents.

Last month, Chad reported that the authority planned to close Sutton’s Rokerfield, Full Bloom and New Outlook day care centres, along with Selston Day Care Centre, and the proposal was approved by a full council on 30th June.

The services will now be provided at the newly-revamped Willow Wood centre on Sheepwash Lane in Sutton - but this week Coun Knight warned that unless people lived close to the new ‘super centre’ there is a danger that they would not use it.

“I don’t care how good the building is - it’s not about buildings, it’s the people who use them,” he said.

“If it’s more than 20 minutes away, you may as well be on the moon.”

Coun Knight described the move as ‘regressive’ and said that it was wrong to put people with different care needs in one place because it could add to the stigma people face.

“They are going back to the old Victorian days of institutions,” he said.

“There will be people with minor learning difficulties with people who have severe dementia and that’s not what it’s about. You are supposed to be dealing with these people, horses for courses.”

But Coun Kevin Rostance, who is cabinet member for adult social care and health, has defended the decision, saying that the service needed to modernise to meet current needs.

He said: “We’re entering a new era in social care where increasing demand and limited resources will mean that all councils have to do what they can to support more people to live independently, increasingly using personal budgets to give people the opportunity to control their own care.

“The modern, shared-use model of day care is already working very well at our newly built day services in Willow Wood, Sutton.

“It is a fantastic facility which will provide an excellent environment for users of existing centres.

“The day services will be open 50 weeks a year and we’ll make sure that those who need help to get to their nearest centre do not incur any additional transport charges. Although services will be provided in fewer buildings we believe that both the services and the buildings will be better.

“The changes to our day services are designed to meet this modern environment and to ensure that better quality services are targeted at those with greatest need.”

In the vote, 38 county councillors backed the proposals, while 17 were against and one abstained.