Heartbreak as council axes Westbourne Park disability centre

The end looks to be in sight for a Westbourne Park disability centre after Westminster Council’s cabinet this week confirmed plans to turn it into a dementia resource centre.

The Westminster Centre for Independent Living, on Westbourne Park Road, has been fighting for survival for almost a year since the council originally announced its plans.

The SOS Westminster lobby group, which was set up to fight for the centre, was invited to provide its own business plan.

But the council decided it was not financially viable and at a meeting on Monday the cabinet voted to consult on creating a new dementia resource centre.

Centre user and SOS Westminster chairman Maria Davis said: “They said we could put a business plan together but they didn’t give us any financial information, so of course they were going to say it wasn’t financially viable.

“I think it’s appalling. They haven’t found anywhere for us to go – they are just throwing us out.”

She says the group will assess different options to fight the decision, including looking into its legality.

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The centre currently has 350 deaf and disabled people registered as service users, while 20 people are also registered for its day service.

The council is proposing moving the Tresham Day Centre in Marylebone to the new dementia resource centre as well as closing the Carlton Dene and Elgin Day Centres in Maida Vale.

It argues that a greater number of residents are increasingly going to require dementia services.

The changes come as part of Westminster’s efforts to save �16million from its adult social care budget by 2012/13.

Other proposals voted through by the cabinet include reducing the number of direct supported hours allocated to people with learning disabilities from 1,160 hours a week to 882.

The number of older people’s hubs are proposed to increase from two to four while there will be a general shift towards personal budgets.

Health boss Cllr Daniel Astaire said: “We are facing enormous pressures, with the demand for care services increasing and an increasing pressure on health and social care budgets.

“In addition, the move towards personal budgets means authorities will have to respond to an increase in service user choice and control and ask if the traditional ways of delivering services is still appropriate.”

A 12-week consultation will run from July 4 to October 1.