No return to full time opening on horizon for Elmbridge's community day centres but reduced hours confirmed

Elmbridge Borough Council has said it did “not anticipate” day centre services running five days a week “for the foreseeable future”.
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The local authority confirmed many people’s fears during an announcement that four of its centres, Hersham, Weybridge, Molesey and Claygate, would be open two days a week – up from the current single day – but on reduced hours.

The council did say the four centres would move to four days a week in late April or May but this was tempered by Walton and Cobham, currently open five days a week, losing a day.

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Last year vulnerable users, volunteers, and the community were shocked over the sudden closure of the council’s day centres.

Photo outside Molesey Centre, Geoff Miller 88 (Image Tracey Melson)Photo outside Molesey Centre, Geoff Miller 88 (Image Tracey Melson)
Photo outside Molesey Centre, Geoff Miller 88 (Image Tracey Melson)

At the time the council said it was to give staff enhanced safety training and fire safety checks.

In the two months since, four centres are only open one day a week with the other two open full time.

The slight increase to two days was described as “a small gesture” and “simply not good enough”.

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Tracey Melson is a volunteer at the Molesey Centre in Bishop Fox Way and her father is a regular visitor.

She said: “I still cannot see why the centres need to remain shut.

“The small gesture of opening for a second day but reduced hours and then to promise a four day opening in May, nearly three months time, is just not good enough.

“Again Elmbridge Borough Council and the portfolio holders have put this down to training.

“Why are we having to wait until May for this?”

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She says other members of staff have yet to be approached over changes to working conditions or over the essential training they require.

She said the elderly community was still being overlooked and their health would likely suffer as a result of missing out on the stimulation, engagement, and company a centre can provide.

She added: “We want our centres open fully and we don’t want to wait until May and still have a reduction in hours.”

The announcement from the council came in another lengthy update on the future of the service.

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Their spokesperson said: “Working with our centre teams, we believe this build back plan will provide valued day services to our community and will do so in a safe and sustainable way.

“We do not anticipate the services running five days per week for the foreseeable future.

“Instead, we will resume our work on the Elmbridge Connects strategy – our positive vision for community services in the borough.

“The aim of this strategy is to strengthen the network of support we are able to provide through community partner collaboration.

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“Our decisions have always been based on the safety of our clients, volunteers, and employees.

“We are not trying to close the centres by stealth.

“We are not trying to run down the centres to sell off the land.

“Instead, we have a positive strategy for community services in Elmbridge – one built on meeting community need, collaborating with partners and establishing a sustainable model of delivering for the 9.3 per cent of residents, across all age groups, who we know are in need of support, not just the two per cent, mainly the elderly, our services are reaching.”

Timeline

  • From February 26 the Walton and Cobham Centres will continue to be open Monday to Friday and the centres in Hersham, Weybridge, Molesey and Claygate will run day services two days per week.
  • Claygate and Weybridge Centres will open on Monday and Thursday.
  • Hersham and Molesey will open Tuesday and Friday.
  • All will offer hot meals and activities. Hersham will continue with its cafe.
  • New opening hours across all centres will be 10am-3pm (currently 9am-4.30pm).
  • From late April early May, all centres including Walton and Cobham will open four days per week – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday.
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