"I have long argued that the giving of offence, and even hate speech, should be a moral matter but not a matter for the criminal law. That is as true on the football pitch as on the streets. We should always challenge racism. We should also always challenge attacks on liberties in the guise of faux antiracism." Kenan Malik

Councillors to press ahead with Norwich day centre closures

Campaigners fighting to keep open two day centres in Norwich appear to have lost their battle as county councillors are set to press ahead with controversial closure plans.

Norfolk County Council today confirmed it was going to set up a new day services partnership in city to replace the Silver Rooms and the Essex Rooms.

The new scheme is set to be approved by members of the adult social services overview and scrutiny panel next Wednesday and would involve a partnership with Age Concern Norwich and Norwich City Council to look at providing alternatives to the day centres.

Under the plans, the partnership will identify new locations for day care services to replace the two centres which are likely to be based in sheltered housing and housing with care schemes.

Both centres will remain open while suitable alternatives are created.

County Hall said the plans which followed a consultation would allow friendship groups to stay together and offer a wider range of facilities and activities. Staff will continue to provide the same high quality care, but in more suitable accommodation and the services would also be available closer to many people’s homes.

David Harwood, cabinet member for adult social services, said: “We are committed to improving day services and widening the choice that people have, but we must make the best use of the council’s resources in tough financial times. The consultation on the Essex and Silver Rooms showed us that what mattered to people was friendship, inclusion and care – not the buildings themselves.

“The new proposals allow us to keep to our policy of specialising council services for dementia and re-ablement, but also develop better replacement services in collaboration with our partners.

Norwich South MP Simon Wright said he was seeking an urgent meeting with both Norfolk County Council and Norwich City Council about the plans.

“I’m very disappointed if these day centres are to close. I felt very strongly that they should be retained and invested in,” Mr Wright said. “We have got a situation where we do have an ageing population where demand for these sorts of services is increasing in the future to give older people a really good social environment.

“What I think is so awful in this process is that I’m not convinced that alternative provision has been identified early enough in the process.”

Next week’s meeting, which will take place at 10am in the Edwards Room, at County Hall, members will also be updated with a report on work being carried out to safeguard vulnerable adults in Norfolk and a review of day activities for people with learning difficulties.


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