The Westmead Centre for disabled adults faces closure threat
A centre for disabled adults may close under plans to offer services from alternative venues such as coffee shops, leisure centres and pubs.
The Westmead Centre in Rances Lane is facing the axe as Wokingham Borough Council works to see if the 52 users could get support and take part in activities elsewhere.
Staff at the centre were briefed on the proposed changes last week and there will be a public consultation on Tuesday, September 15.
Councillor David Lee, leader of the council, said: “Providing social care is not about buildings and institutions, it is about enhancing people’s lives and opportunities.
“That is why Wokingham Borough Council is looking to bring activities offered to people with physical disabilities out into the mainstream community, giving them a greater choice on how they live their lives.”
The plans have come about as part of the council’s Putting People First project, which offers disabled and elderly adults their own care budgets to spend on services as they see fit.
The council says the consultation will investigate if the Westmead Centre offers the care dis-abled adults “need and want”.
Stuart Rowbotham, general manager of community care, said: “The closure of Westmead is a possibility as the centre is not attracting new, young clients because they are seeking activities outside the traditional social care institutions.
“In addition, the centre is not in a good state of repair and, more importantly, we are now in a position to offer the same services and support that have been provided there in better, main-stream locations such as leisure centres, coffee shops and even pubs.
“At the moment, it is not unusual for a group of people to meet at Westmead and then go off to other activities such as a pub lunch or an exercise class.
“So we need to ask ourselves whether we need to have an actual bricks and mortar Westmead building when more and more activities are being provided outside – activities that clients can access by using their personalised budgets and enjoy with their friends.”
Cllr Prue Bray, leader of Wokingham Liberal Democrats, said the plans had come out of the blue and seemed premature considering Putting People First had only be launched recently.