At a packed Overview and Scrutiny on Monday, the decision to close drop-in centres for the elderly in the borough was sent back to the Labour Cabinet for review, after Liberal Democrats successfully highlighted the issue.
The decision was made after both Liberal Democrat and Labour members asked Adult Services lead member Dilek Dogus to reconsider the Council’s decision to cut funding to all drop-in centres and to ask the Council Cabinet for more time to allow charities and the voluntary sector to find ways to take over their running.
Over one hundred users and organisers of the services showed their anger at the closure decision as Cllr David Winskill, LibDem lead member for Adult Services, made the case that Haringey had not properly assessed the financial impact of the proposal on other Council services and local Health services.
He also said that there had been inadequate time for the voluntary sector to find the money, training and to make arrangements to take these much valued and essential facilities over. The Scrutiny heard impassioned representations from Haringey Age Concern, HAVCO, I Can Care, Jackson’s Lane, Abyssinia Court, Woodside House and many other campaigners.
One 99 year old gentleman from Abyssinia Court stood up and said, “If these closures were to go ahead, it would be the worst decision Haringey has ever made”.
Commenting on the Referral Back to Cabinet, Cllr Winskill said:
“The meeting was a fantastic demonstration of just how important these centres are. Haringey must listen and try to ensure they are kept open or at the very least, give the Voluntary Sector a breathing space so that they can plan to take them over before they disappear.”
Lynne Featherstone, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green added:
“The Scrutiny Committee really showed its mettle on Monday. People are rightly angry that when times get tough, in Haringey, Labour always seems to hit the vulnerable first. There must be time for a rethink so that changes can be made without abandoning our old people’s services.”