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Bid to save Norwich day centres

PUBLISHED: 11:00 02 February 2010 | UPDATED: 07:52 02 July 2010

Sarah Hall

The future of two closure-threatened Norwich day centres will come under the spotlight at a special workshop this week - as council bosses try to find an organisation prepared to take over the running of the services.

The future of two closure-threatened Norwich day centres will come under the spotlight at a special workshop this week - as council bosses try to find an organisation prepared to take over the running of the services.

Consultation is currently under way over proposals which could see the closure of the Silver Rooms and the Essex Rooms in Norwich, as part of Norfolk County Council's strategy to focus on elderly people with dementia.

But, although the closure of the centres, which are run by the county council, has yet to be agreed, a private workshop has been organised this week to establish if other providers might be prepared to take them over.

Specially invited people, including representatives of voluntary groups and independent providers, will attend the meeting at the Vauxhall Centre on Thursday.

A spokeswoman for the county council said the purpose of the workshop was to explore if there were alternative ways to run the day centres and stressed it was for invited people only.

People who attend will be provided with the running costs associated with the Essex and Silver Rooms so they can make a judgement on whether they could take them over from the county council.

But Jonathan Dunning, county secretary for workers union UNISON, said his members would not support the privatisation of the services.

He said: “We are coming at this from two angles, really. One is that the Essex and Silver Rooms are a vital public service and the second is from the perspective of our members, because they would have to be comfortable with any solution found.

“A privatised solution is not one we would support. But a community partnership, involving the county council, is something which could protect the service, jobs and pensions.”

The county council says within 15 years there will be a 62pc increase in the number of people in Norfolk with dementia - rising from 12,714 in 2008 to 20,621 by 2025.

They say that means they have to change their focus on tackling the surge in dementia and the care homes and day services it runs will change as a result.

Council bosses say the Essex and Silver Rooms are not suitable to be converted to that use, so have proposed their closure, to the fury of pensioners who use them.

The centres' users set up petitions calling for the centres to be saved and packed two public meetings where the issues were discussed.

Consultation over the changes is ongoing, with more than 1,000 documents sent out and people given until March to have their say, with the county council set to make a decision in June.

What do you think of the proposal to close the day centres? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

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