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Concern over plans to close day centre


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COUNCILLORS have raised concerns over Age UK plans to close a day centre for the elderly.

Burgess Hill town councillors met Age UK yesterday, after the older people’s charity announced plans to close the Cherry Tree centre in Fairfield Road, Burgess Hill.

Instead from March next year, the charity plans to run its services from different venues around the town, calling the existing venue “not central enough” and saying it was not attracting enough users.

Cost saving is also believed to be a factor.

Age UK West Sussex day centre offers lunch clubs, outings, and computer training, as well as a hairdressers and a library service.

During the meeting Age UK told councillors it had not yet found venues to host the services.

Speaking to The Argus after the meeting, Conservative town councillor Anne Jones, representing Meeds Ward, said she was worried a lot of venues may already be occupied.

She said: “Mid Sussex District Council, who own the building, said they do not have to hand in the lease.

“But Age UK say they want to look after old people in different venues around the town.

“We will let them explore those options, but I think that may be more difficult.

“Our concern remains we need a functioning day centre in Burgess Hill.

“We really cannot lose such a vital facility and we are in a town where the population is increasing.

“In Worthing the numbers of older people have fallen and they have lots of facilities.

“Burgess Hill it is the opposite where the ageing population will increase for the next 20 years.”

Other groups are also are believed to the Age UK centre.

In a statement Age UK said: “It’s really very sad that we have to leave St Alban’s Hall in March but the spirit of the Cherry Tree Centre will live on.

“We are currently working with existing members to make sure that the community clubs we are setting up will be right for older people in Burgess Hill with new and existing activities and lunch clubs.”

The charity added: “We have a core base of committed members at The Cherry Tree who love the service we provide.

“But unfortunately with the existing location – it’s not central enough – we were struggling to attract new members.

“The lease at St Alban’s Hall ends in March 2018.

“In discussion with the councils we came to the conclusion that we could serve the community better if we could take our activities out to the people of Burgess Hill with lunch clubs and activity days – much as we do successfully with our Shoreham and Adur lunch clubs.

“We are now working with our members to make sure that we provide the right activities in the right venues for them – and for the older people of Burgess Hill.”

Source: The Argus