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Pensioners in Bourne End fear closure of day centre they helped build
PENSIONERS who bought bricks to help build Bourne End day centre in the 1980s have expressed their fears over plans to close it.
Last month Buckinghamshire County Council unveiled a proposal to shut and possibly sell off the centre – along with about 20 others in the county (see link below).
The council wants to develop two or three bigger facilities in the High Wycombe, Chesham, Amersham and Aylesbury areas, to replace the traditional day centres. These would be new or refurbished centres.
Bosses said the new framework would provide services ‘appropriate for what people need and want’ – but acknowledged the need to save cash was a factor. A consultation into the plans has been launched.
Anne Rolfe, 91, of Roman Way in Bourne End, was one of the residents who helped raise £45,000 that went towards building the centre in 1984.
She said: “It would be terrible if it was closed because the centre was built by Bourne End people. I was involved in raising the money for it and we feel like we own it.”
About 50 people use the centre on Wakeman Road, which is owned and maintained by the council, and staffed by The Red Cross. Most said they go for the company and activities such as singing, card games and table tennis.
Doris Lane, 90, lives on Blind Lane and began using the facility this year. She said: “I'm worried about what's going to happen because this place is something for me to look forward to. Wycombe is a long way for someone like me to go.”
Other users praised the staff at the centre, some of whom are volunteers. Vince Hickman, 69, from Flackwell Heath, said: “The people who run it are so good – part of my life would be taken away if it closed.”
Many users are picked up by a bus and taken to the centre. There are concerns over whether this would continue under the plans, though the council says transport to the bigger 'hub' in High Wycombe will be provided for those that need it.
Jim Penfold, chairman of Bourne End Residents Association, hit out at the consultation document published by the council - which says many of the county's existing day centres are “not in a good state of repair” and “not very accessible”.
He said: “The Bourne End day centre is a lovely little facility for the community. It might need a lick of paint but it was only built 26 years ago for exactly this purpose. It's got wheelchair ramps and all the right facilities.”
The document says Bucks has more older people and efforts must be made to ‘ensure that the services put in place to meet this demand are affordable if they are to be sustainable’.
It adds the move will see people 'more involved in the community where they live and have a more active role in society' (see full document below).
It plans to make use of other public facilities, such as community centres and libraries, to provide alternative places for elderly people and those with learning difficulties to meet.
Bev Frost, a spokesman for BCC, confirmed that £45,000 was raised by residents to help build the day centre. She said no decision would be made on its future until the consultation finsihed at the end of August.