FIVE council-run day care centres for elderly and disabled people look set to close as part of cost-cutting measures.
Durham County Council, which runs ten large day care centres across the county, is proposing to close Spennymoor Day Centre; The Oaks Centre, in Newton Aycliffe ; The Shinwell Centre, in Peterlee ; Stanley Day Centre and The Durham Centre, at Aykley Heads, Durham City.
The move, which would save an estimated £446,000-ayear, would see services used by about 450 elderly and disabled people transferred to alternative centres nearby.
Members of the authority’s cabinet will vote on the proposal, which follows a service review and six-week public consultation exercise, when it meets in Spennymoor next Wednesday.
The council says that proposals are being put forward in response to a fall in the number of people attending day centres.
Figures suggest the number of people using the centres fell by 25 per cent between April 2010 and June this year, which, the authority says, has left some of the larger centres operating at less than half their capacity.
It also says it is facing a estimated bill of £4.69m over the next ten years to maintain the buildings at a time when Government cuts mean it has to find savings of about £180m by 2017.
Councillor Morris Nicholls, the council’s cabinet member for adult services, said: “We need to review our services in order to meet changing needs in a better way and we believe the moves we are proposing will address these changes and make our services more efficient.
“We would stress that these changes would not affect the amount or type of day care anyone receives. Groups would be moved together so friendships can be maintained and, of course, any changes would be carefully managed by our experienced teams.
“In addition, no one who would be required to transfer to a different centre would have to travel any more than an additional 1.8 miles to get there.”
Under the proposals, services currently provided at the five day centres would in future be offered at Spennymoor Leisure Centre; Newton Aycliffe Leisure Centre; Peterlee Day Centre; The Louisa Centre, in Stanley and Abbey Day Centre, in Pity Me.
During the consultation exercise, a number of service users – particularly at Spennymoor Day Centre – raised concerns about the proposals, with 38 per cent saying they were worried about the impact of the changes.
Campaign leaders said last night they wanted time to assess the report before commenting on the proposals.