Devastation as day centre set to close
MORE than 50 vulnerable residents and a number of voluntary groups will be forced out of a day centre which is being closed by a cash-strapped council.
Burslem Day Centre will shut for the final time in March and the care of its users handed over to private organisations.
Groups that used the Baddeley Street venue have been forced to find alternative accommodation.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council will also close down facilities in Shelton and Fenton from April.
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The controversial move will result in annual savings of £1.46 million as part of a wider package of changes, offset by the £763,000 yearly cost of alternatives.
The authority put the services out to tender and 11 providers were selected.
The council has confirmed these firms will work with the 55 people who currently receive support at Burslem.
Voluntary groups, including the Burslem Alzheimer's Support Group, have started to move out in preparation for the centre's closure.
The group has relocated to Sandyford fire station and may consider a name change after leaving the Mother Town.
Co-ordinator Pat Bentley, aged 64, of Cheddleton, said: "We are sorry to leave the day centre after nearly 20 years.
"The city council did offer alternative venues but there was nothing suitable. But, they did recommend the fire station.
"The new facilities are great and in some ways it's better. It is a little out of town from where we were but there is a properly-lit car park."
Councillor Gwen Hassall, cabinet member for social care, said: "The decision to close the centre was taken in February 2011 following a consultation process.
"The council started a tendering exercise with the aim of establishing a range of day services opportunities across the city that would offer greater choice and flexibility and services, closer to home.
"In November 2011 it was announced there had been 11 successful providers. "These providers will offer services to the 55 existing users of services at Burslem Day Centre.
"A number of voluntary groups have used the centre and we are working to help find alternative venues for these groups."
Gillian Cooper, of disability group the Phab Freewheelers, who meet at Burslem Day Centre every other Thursday, is looking for alternative premises.
She said: "We are one of the very few groups who have physically disabled members so we are devastated to move out.
"The day centre has exactly the right facilities we needed to cater for our members and such a building will be hard to find elsewhere in the city."