REOPENING a day centre closed since the start of the Covid pandemic could cost a council a “six figure sum” it has been claimed.
The Tudor Centre in Abergavenny is one of three buildings in the town currently being considered as a base for the My Day, My Life support service for adults with learning disabilities but by just one vote Monmouthshire county councillors dismissed a bid to reopen it in the interim period.
The council’s cabinet member for social care, Ian Chandler, said the currently shuttered centre is “the most expensive” of those being considered. But he said work to assess it, the Melville Theatre and Abergavenny Community Centre is still ongoing.
The Labour-led cabinet agreed in July to accept all the recommendations of a review of the My Day, My Life service which included establishing bases in both Abergavenny and Monmouth. The review found the support service had deteriorated without a base to run it from and that users wanted a place to meet.
Green Party member Cllr Chandler said it’s intended to agree at the cabinet meeting on October 11 which buildings in Abergavenny and Monmouth should become bases and when they could be in use. It’s also anticipated all the recommendations of the review should be enacted by January, 2024.
The motion put forward by the Conservative group endorsed all the review’s recommendations and noted the council is continuing to evaluate the long-term options but would have directed it to prepare for the reopening of the Tudor Centre in the “interim period”.
But Cllr Chandler said that should be rejected by the council and said: “The elephant in the room back to Tudor Street is the cost. It’s not just a lick of paint and it could open.”
As the building has been closed since early 2020 further checks including to its ceiling are required. “It would need significant investment to make it fit for purpose,” said Cllr Chandler.
The Llantilio Crossenny member added all the buildings would need improved access and said: “Tudor Street is the most expensive of the three.”
Reopening the Tudor Centre, Cllr Chandler said: “Would probably be a six figure capital sum and £50-£60,000 a year in ongoing running costs. That’s not a decision that should be taken on a whim in this chamber. We are only talking about being three weeks away from making that decision.”
As well as assessing buildings the council has held talks with service users but the councillor said a planned workshop in Abergavenny was cancelled, due to a protest planned to take place outside the venue, and one to one consultations held at people’s homes instead.
The cabinet member also said talks have been held with campaigners, who launched a battle in November last year to save the centre when the cabinet announced, without consultation, it intended permanently closing the building and selling it for social housing, despite the then on-going review into support for adults with learning disabilities. The campaigners, Cllr Chandler said, want to explore the potential of running the building themselves.
Cllr Chandler also defended posting a comment to Twitter before accepting the cabinet post calling for the centre to be re-opened. The Green Party councillor, who reached a deal to support the Labour administration, for a cabinet role said: “I did back in April say it should reopen, it’s easy to say that in opposition.”
Conservative group leader Richard John said Cllr Chandler had promised in July to make a decision in September and said: “Today is the last decision making meeting and I haven’t seen any explanation. There is a feeling this is dragging on too long when most of us know what needs to be done.”
He said it was “clear” the Tudor Centre was the only of the three buildings in Abergaveny that was suitable.
There was anger in the chamber when rather than allow the Conservative motion to go to a vote Cllr Chandler tabled an amendment which replaced the direction to reopen the Tudor Centre with a “commitment to open bases for My Day, My Life in both Monmouth and Abergavenny” even though that had already been agreed by the cabinet.
Devauden Conservative Rachel Buckler called the amendment was “spurious” and said: “It’s already been decided hubs are needed in both Monmouth and Abergavenny. What we are concerned about is reopening Tudor Street.”
The cabinet amendment was accepted by 22 votes to 21. Cllr Chandler and independent councillor Meirion Howell who formed a Green/Independent group with Cllr Chander, voted with the Labour group while the Conservatives and the Independent Group voted against the amendment.
The Conservatives then abstained when the amended motion, that set out what the cabinet had already committed to, was passed by the council.