12:46pm Friday 20th July 2012
By David Hardiman
A Harrow day centre for people with mental health issues will close after the council approved a major reorganisation of services.
Marlborough Hill Day Centre, which provides a weekday drop-in service offering meals, workshops and group activities, will close with services moved to a new ‘hub’ at the Bridge Day Centre in Christchurch Avenue.
The closure will save the council £252,000 a year, but Councillor Margaret Davine, portfolio holder for adult social care, insisted the move was made to improve services despite Government cuts to Harrow’s budget.
She said: “This review has been a long time coming, but we believe this will best meet the needs of people with mental health issues within the resources available.
“Everyone who currently receives a service will continue to do so – nobody will have their services cut.”
Council leader Bill Stephenson added the closure “was not intended as a cut” and would improve the council’s offering for people with mental health issues.
Users of the centre lined up before the cabinet at last night’s cabinet meeting to question the closure, joined by leaders of voluntary and charity groups which work at the building.
Elizabeth Hugo, chairman of Aspergers Syndrome Access to Provision (ASAP) Harrow, pleaded with councillors to allow voluntary groups to continue using the building even if council funding is cut.
The charity currently uses the building to provide support for people three days a week.
But Cllr Davine refused to discuss the future of the building, adding: “The future of Marlborough Hill will be looked at.
“We recognise building is used by a number of groups and will work with them to find alternative accommodation.”
Councillors have been working with service users, carers and the voluntary sector for nearly two years to come up with the new model, with the Bridge Day Centre becoming the main centre and focussing on trying to get people into work, as well as providing activities and a café.
Services will also be retained at the Wiseworks centre, which offers activities including computing, photography, woodwork and horticulture.
Were you at last night’s meeting or are you one of the people affected by the closure? Call the Harrow Times on 0208 359 5906.
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