Local Liberal Democrats have expressed their frustration and disappointment after Labour reconfirmed yesterday their commitment to the closure of Haringey’s older people’s drop-in centres and luncheon clubs despite overwhelming opposition to the proposals from service users and local residents.
A special meeting of the Council’s cabinet was convened after Liberal Democrats forced a review of the decision to close older people’s drop-in centres and luncheon clubs which was heard by the Council’s ‘watchdog’ committee earlier in the week.
The Overview and Scrutiny committee agreed with Liberal Democrats that the drop-in centres and luncheon clubs provided a vital preventative service for older residents that the Council should protect.
However, the Labour cabinet ignored the recommendations of the committee and have now forced through the closures. Liberal Democrats, who have spearheaded the campaign against Labour’s cuts, have said that Labour’s decision is short-sighted and will result in older people becoming socially isolated.
Cllr David Winskill, Liberal Democrat Adult Social Services spokesperson, comments:
“Local residents and people who use the drop-in centres and luncheon clubs will be bitterly disappointed that, despite showing the Labour Council how much these services are used and depended upon, they have been ignored.
“We asked Labour to give more time to the voluntary sector to make arrangements to take over these centres and they refused even to do that.”
Lynne Featherstone, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, added:
“Labour has used the veil of cuts in central government funding to hide their closure programme. They have tried to close these centres before and were forced to backtrack.
“This time they have forced through the closures without giving thought to the long-term costs to local older people who will become socially excluded and vulnerable as a result of this decision.”
I attended a beautiful exhibition of photographs yesterday at St James Church in Muswell Hill. The photographs were of people using the services under threat of closure and a number of those service users were present at the exhibition. My favourite was one of a service users hands being held by a relative of carer. Local Councillors Isidoros Diakedes and Jim Jenks were in attendance, however our MP was no where to be seen. I understand that MPs are busy people but I think it quite disgraceful that she was unable to provide any message of support for the people using these services at this difficult time. This follows the final decision of Haringey Council’s Cabinet in recent days to withdraw funding.
We must see how we can keep as many of these service open as possible and now with the doors at the council closed we need our MP to knock at the door of David Cameron for Big Society money. I assume that there is money behind the Big Society and that this is not a ruse for government cuts. Come on Lynne, get moving NOW!
As chair of Hornsey Housing Trust I have a particular interest in what is known as Abyssinia Court. The name of the lunch club is the “Happy Go Lucky Club” and it was established in the aftermath of the devastation of the second world as part of services by the Clem Attlee government. The Treasurer to the lunch club is one of our residents, Ian Fenwick, and he has been the volunteer treasurer since 1951. Our board of trustees have decided that our facilities are available rent free to anyone who would wish to provide the lunch club and other services. We have a small professional catering kitchen with serving for cook chill and fully wheelchair accessible facilities including two WCs large enough to take the service user and two carers, as well as a disabled access garden.
If we were able to establish the lunch club despite the devastation of the second world war, can we really see it close in 2011? Any proposals to keep the lunch club through our rent free premises will be keenly received.