Proposed sale of closed day centre sparks anger among former users
Town hall bosses have been accused of shutting the “jewel in the crown” of Westminster’s disability services to boost the council’s coffers.
Westminster Council is expecting to raise �1.5 million from the sale of a plot of land at 42 Westbourne Park Road – next to the former site of a purpose-built disability care centre. It became respite unit Westminster Centre for Independent Living before closing in September last year.
Although a dementia centre is set to open in the building in November, residents who used to rely on the old services claim its closure was a money-making scheme.
Annette Creedon, whose husband Frank Miller received care at the centre after suffering a brain haemorrhage, said: “I think it’s criminal. I definitely think the closure of the centre was motivated by money.
“The building was the jewel in the crown of Westminster’s disability services. There are a million things they could have done to make it viable.
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“Most of the people who use the centre don’t have anybody to fight for them and that’s why they get away with it.”
No decision has yet been taken on the fate of the adjoining land, but council papers suggest it is likely to be sold.
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The council stressed the building had been closed to provide a dedicated dementia centre, with more than 230 people diagnosed in the borough last year.
Cllr Rachael Robathan, cabinet member for adults and health, said: “Dementia is widely acknowledged to be one of the most pressing problems currently facing the UK, with the number of people diagnosed with the disease standing at more than 800,000. As the needs of older people change and grow, local authorities need to play an active role in finding innovative ways to tackle the condition and deliver appropriate care.”
Mrs Creedon, of Maida Avenue in Maida Vale, who has now set up her own care services independently of the council, said the old building had been a lifeline and her husband became trapped in the house after its closure.
She added: “The council say day centres are outmoded but some people need them. They need to be able to go somewhere they feel safe in and are properly cared for.”