A COUNCIL is set to agree a base to provide support for adults with learning disabilities in Abergavenny almost a year after the closure of a day centre was announced.
Monmouthshire council’s cabinet is being recommended to press ahead with making the Melville Centre for the Arts in Pen-y-Pound the base for the My Day, My Life support service.
It had been expected to make the decision when it met on October 11 but the cabinet member responsible for social care, Ian Chandler, announced at the last minute talks were continuing with campaigners who had wanted the shuttered Tudor Centre to re-open.
It was agreed in October the Overmonnow Family Learning Centre should be the base for the My Day, My Life service in Monmouth.
No decision on what will happen to the Tudor Street building will be made until the end of the financial year however to give groups interested in taking it on time to come forward.
When it was agreed, without consultation, at the end of November last year to permanently close the Tudor Centre and sell the building –that had closed at the start of the Covid pandemic in 2020 – for affordable housing a community campaign to reopen it began.
The campaign was further boosted when an ongoing review of the My Day, My Life support service for adults with disabilities supported calls from them and their families to provide a support base. The council’s social services department had dismissed day centres as “outdated” when it had proposed closing the Tudor Centre insisiting it now offered more individually tailored support and access to activities.
The Tudor Centre, along with Abergavenny Community Centre and the Melville were the three sites shortlisted for the base in Abergavenny – and the council had faced continued calls to choose Tudor Street with questions raised about the accessibility of the other buildings.
The report from Green Party member Cllr Chandler, who is part of the Labour-led cabinet, states it will have to find £135,000 for access improvements at the Melville including resurfacing its car park, widening an approach path and replacing a door but it won’t require additional annual running costs which would have been £23,166 a year at the Tudor Centre.
Basing the service at the Melville is also intended to ensure the support service is based in “an existing vibrant community facility”.
The report acknowledged the Tudor Centre, described as a specialist social services facility, could be developed for community use, in line with calls from campaigners who said it had traditionally supported a wider cross section of vulnerable adults, but this risked it competing with other community buildings for room hire income. The investment in the Melville will also make the venue more accessible to the wider community.
However Cllr Chandler said the council will support community groups it has been in talks with who want to develop support for a wider range of adults and is holding back on any decision on the future of the Tudor Street building to allow them to put forward proposals.
Cllr Chandler, who is to present his report to the November 15 cabinet meeting, said: “We are supporting community groups to develop their activities and funding streams, and are holding back on any decisions about the Tudor Street building to give them an opportunity to submit proposals for its future use.”
The former Abergavenny Tourist Information Centre, known as the Wellbeing Centre, will be used as the My Day, My Life building while work is taking place at the Melville and support for the community groups will also include them being allowed to use the Wellbeing Centre as a base for activities and meetings. The council will also provide advice about the developing business proposals.
The council’s Labour leader, Mary Ann Brocklesby described the plan as “a people’s solution” to “what has been a contentious issue” and added: “It shows that we are an administration that listens and cares”.
Cabinet will also be asked to start a review of community-based support for people with learning disabilities in Monmouthshire.