Lifeline service axed amid funding cuts in Walsall

A LONG-RUNNING pensioners’ day care service has been axed after Walsall Council pulled the plug on its funding, claiming it was not value for money.

The Senior Citizens’ Day Care service, which operated from the African Caribbean Community Centre (ACCA) on Wolverhampton Road, provided pensioners with hot meals as well as transport and the chance to make new friends.

But now the service has been taken off the menu, centre bosses are keen to stress that the base itself – which has been at the heart of the community for a quarter of century – is still open for business.

Chairman of ACCA, Basil Ellis, said: “It has come to my attention that a malicious rumour is circulating in Walsall that our community centre has closed or is due to close shortly. I would like to state that this is completely untrue.

“We have provided services that are popular with people from different generations and communities from our centre for over 25 years.

“We have every intention of continuing to do so with the support of the people of Walsall and the Black Country.”

He said: “It is true that our Senior Citizens’ Day Care service has closed due to a severe cut in funding by Walsall Council.

“But many other activities are still open, including our Social Club and nationally-successful Dominos Club.”

The portfolio holder for social care and inclusion, Councillor Barbara McCracken, said this week that service users were being helped to find alternatives.

“There has been no reduction in the overall level of funding in the voluntary sector for adult social care,” she said.

“In fact, further new investment of £6 million has gone into the sector.

“Costs for the service provide by the ACCA Day Centre have increased very significantly in like for like comparison with other services and we are confident that we can achieve better value for money elsewhere.

“All service users are being offered support in suitable alternative voluntary sector provision.

“We have made several attempts to contact the organisation but, each time, no one has been available or has returned our calls.”

The centre says it has tried to contact senior council officers to discuss the issue, but to no avail.