25/11/2011

Aberystwyth Day Care Centre - the case for keeping what we have


One of the casualties of Aberystwyth’s Mill Street Development debate has been the Park Avenue Day Care Centre. The Centre is now planned for demolition to make way for new shops and a multi-storey car park and the service is to be moved into a converted section of the Town Hall alongside the new town library (plans are explained here). Whilst there are obvious benefits to placing the new day care centre in the same building as the library, it is clear that the space allocated exclusively to day care is going to be significantly reduced compared to what we have now.

Ceredigion Council has handled the Day Care Centre process extraordinarily badly. The decision was rushed through by the Council’s Cabinet, with no opportunity for input from Day Centre users or the wider public.

With the Council now legally committed to allowing the developer Chelverton to build on the site, and with the Town Hall conversion well underway and due for completion in March, hopes of saving the existing Day Centre seem optimistic to say the least. However a growing group of campaigners has come together to oppose the move to the Town Hall and their demonstration last Saturday can be seen above.

This blog has so far published statements by Ceredigion Council and by Aberystwyth Chamber of Commerce, who support the Mill Street development. In the interests of balance and debate, it’s only fair therefore to publish the views of the Day Centre campaign. Gerald Morgan, Chair of the Save Aberystwyth Day Centre Committee, writes below.

“Save Aberystwyth Day Care Centre

“Members of the Aberystwyth Day Centre Support Group oppose the plans for the Centre proposed by Chelverton Developments Ltd and the Ceredigion County Council and wish to see the retention of the Day Centre with its present facilities for the following reasons:

1. The present Day Care Centre is an admirable, purpose-built resource for the benefit of needy elderly people in the Aberystwyth area, and for their carers.

2. The Centre offers its own car parking.

3. Bus services, taxis and cars can put down or pick up clients without causing danger to other road users.

4. There is a nearby controlled pedestrian crossing for those coming from the bus station or centre of town.

5. There are no stairs, lifts or ramps in the Day Centre; it is entirely safe to enter and leave. It would be easy to evacuate in case of fire.

6. The Day Centre offers enough space for more than one kind of activity to take place simultaneously.

7. The Day Centre offers good hygiene facilities.

“All the above statements are facts.

“However, the intention to move the Centre to the old Town Hall is open to criticism for the following reasons:

1. It offers less accommodation room than the present number of clients warrants.

2. There is no room to park cars.

3. There is no safe place for buses, taxis or cars to stop for put-down/pick-up purposes.

4. There is no pedestrian crossing at this seriously dangerous road junction.

5. Access is difficult. The ramp to the basement has a 180 degree turn which will make wheelchair use difficult or impossible for the elderly. Evacuation in case of fire would be a nightmare.

6. The reduced space will exclude the most vulnerable clients and preclude alternative activities.

7. The hygiene facilities are greatly inferior to those in the current Day Centre.

“All the above statements are facts. We believe that these objections are sufficient to warrant the withdrawal of the threatened closure and destruction of the Day Centre.

“Additionally we believe:

1. that at every level the Council Council’s consultation process has been seriously inadequate

2. that had the County Council taken better advice the Day Centre could have been preserved or replaced on its present site with the full cooperation of the development company and its main client.”

Gerald Morgan
Chair, Save Aberystwyth Day Centre Committee

Photo by David Kirby

8 comments:

  1. Was there any money raised from the sale of the site?

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  2. If you look at the development plan you will see that the Tesco store does not impinge on the Day Centre site. The Day Centre is to be demolished to create space for two small shop units which are in addition to the main development. These two shop units could be left out of the development without affecting Tesco and the Day Centre could stay where it is.

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  3. Anonymous:
    There will be - around £3 million

    See here for more details:
    http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=17516

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  4. In 2 weeks 4114 people have signed the petition against closure of the Day Centre. The petition is still open. It will be presented in Aberaeron on 6th December.

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  5. Chelverton tell me it was entirely Ceredigion County Councils decision to include the area occupied by the Day Centre in the bidding process for the development and move the Centre to the basement of the Town Hall.

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  6. Over 5,750 signatures were obtained on the petition opposing the closure of the current Day Centre. Compare that with the 3,850 votes cast for all candidates from Aberystwyth wards in the May 2008 elections for councillors to serve on Ceredigion County Council.

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  7. Below is a further, very well-worded, statement by Gerald Morgan delivered to the Council:

    "It gives me no pleasure at all to express a deeply critical view of the decision of the County Council to demolish the Park Avenue Day Centre and replace it with inferior premises. As a former employee of the two previous County Education Authorities, having lived in the county for more than half my lifetime, I count myself a loyal adoptive Cardi and a warm well-wisher to the County Council.

    "The campaign to Save Park Avenue Day Centre has been in existence for less than five weeks. That was all that was needed for a handful of volunteers to collect five thousand seven hundred and ninety-seven signatures from the local population protesting against the proposal to demolish the Day Centre. The forms have been checked and no frivolous names entered. There may be a very few duplicate signatures, for which we have allowed two extra sheets containing fifty-six names which were handed in a day late and are not included in the total. Canvassers were refused a signature by five individuals.

    "I would summarise our opposition to the Council’s plans on two levels. The first is general:

    "There was no consultation with the Aberystwyth public before key decisions were made about the Mill Street site. It is likely that a great majority would have approved of development had such consultation taken place, though the Council might well have learned that there could be more support for a Department Store, which the town lacks and would bring in many visitors, rather than another supermarket.

    "There was no meaningful consultation with Day Centre clients and their carers. They were simply told of the decision. No individual opinions were sought.

    "Had the Council taken a more robust attitude on behalf of its citizens, it could well have persuaded the Developers to provide proper alternative accommodation for the Day Centre or to have included the present, purpose-built and much-loved building within their plans.
    We do not accept as valid the argument that, since provision of a Day Centre is not mandatory, that therefore a favour is being done to the elderly by use of the Town Hall site. Provision of public toilets is not mandatory either, but imagine the response if all Aberystwyth’s public toilets were closed.

    "The second level is specific.

    1. The Town Hall basement offers far less accommodation space than the present number of clients warrants. The area of the basement appears to be less than one half that of the present Centre. Only 32 can be seated for meals

    2. The reduced space will exclude the most vulnerable clients and seriously affect their carers.

    3. There is no safe place for buses, taxis or cars to stop for put-down/pick-up purposes.

    4. There is no pedestrian crossing at this seriously dangerous road junction.

    5. Access is difficult. The ramp to the basement has a 180 degree turn which will make wheelchair use difficult or impossible for the elderly. Evacuation in case of fire would be a nightmare. The ramp is uncoveredand will be uncomfortable in rain, dangerous in snow/ice.

    6. There is no adequate room to park cars. The present site accommodates 18 spaces, including three spaces for vehicles for the disabled.

    7. The hygiene facilities are greatly inferior to those in the current Day Centre. The toilet door opens directly into the main/dining room, which is forbidden in domestic housing.

    8. The disabled toilet shares its space with the shower, and has no hoist as in the present Day Centre. There will no longer be a bath with hoist; the current facility is used by up to 25 clients every week.

    9. Food will not be cooked on the premises.

    10. No future accommodation will be provided for the art classes run in the present centre.

    11. There will no longer be any facilities for the WRVS to supply tea, coffee and sandwiches as at present.

    12. There is no garden at the Town Hall, only a small patio."

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  8. Yes, irritating isn't it? You see, when you have less money you have to trim sails. I think the older community would understand this having lived through the prior less severe economic turbulence...

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