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Netherwood dementia centre in West Hampstead set to be saved after council U-turn

PUBLISHED: 17:00 18 April 2012

Jane Clinton with her father John outside Netherwood Day Centre

Jane Clinton with her father John outside Netherwood Day Centre

Dieter Perry

An embattled West Hampstead dementia centre is set to stay open - but campaigners are continuing their fight to protect other services for vulnerable people.

The Netherwood Centre was due to close this year along with three other centres, and be amalgamated into a new centre in Kentish Town.

But a campaign spearheaded by carers and supported by author Sir Terry Pratchett and comedian Ricky Gervais has prompted Camden Council into a U-turn.

It is the second time in a year the centre, in Netherwood Road, has been saved from closure.

Jane Clinton, whose 68 year-old father John regularly visited the day centre until he became too ill last year, said: “It shows the power of protest.

“Councillors should listen to carers and the people who use the services because they know what will work and what won’t.

“We would like to think we have convinced the council Netherwood has an intrinsic value which should not be lost. The community wants it and will fight for it.”

Ms Clinton, who lives with her father off Kentish Town Road, added: “I have fought for it out of a labour of love, but quite a hard one because I would like dad to still be going there. It has reminded me about what we have lost as a family. We still feel extraordinarily grateful to the place for what they did for us.”

While Netherwood is set to continue to operate as a stand alone centre, three others – Highgate, Shoot-Up Hill and Raglan – are likely to close.

Under proposals recommended by Camden Council officers, due to be voted on by councillors last night (Wednesday, April 18), the three centres will be moved to separate rooms within a new purpose-built centre known as Greenwood Place in Kentish Town.

Council chiefs insist the move will allow them to build new services for youngsters with profound and multiple learning disabilities and those with autism.

But many carers and clients have voiced grave concerns that the move will uproot vulnerable people from the centres they rely on.

A council spokeswoman said: “We decided to talk to people very early in this process, before we had all the answers, because we wanted to understand how the proposal would affect people.

“The strong message we had back was that poeple wanted Netherwood to remain in its building and that people that used the New Shoots centre wanted to continue to have a base within a building.

“We listened to this feedback and revised the proposal as a result.”

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