Members of Wellingborough Council’s resources committee have recommended that day care centre Glamis Hall should close at the end of the year.
The committee agreed by nine votes to three to recommend that the building, and the day centre run from there, would close from 31 December unless an interested third party group or organisation puts forward a business plan to take on the provision of the service.
Talks with one organisation – the campaign group Save Glamis Hall For All – are due to begin this morning (Thursday 18 September).
The decision to close Glamis Hall was originally made back in June. Two weeks ago, campaigners opposed to the closure presented a 10,000 signature petition to an extraordinary meeting of the full council, where it was agreed to look again at the decision and refer it back to the resources committee of 16 September.
Tuesday’s meeting began with members of the committee unanimously agreeing to set aside the decision made back in June, and to start again in considering the future of Glamis Hall. Six speakers then addressed the packed council chamber before councillors began debating the issue.
All councillors had been given a 117-page report detailing information about the current clients and what they wanted from a day care service, as well as information on the state and costs of the building; the financial commitment of running the discretionary service; what other provision is available for older people in the borough; and an independent assessment of the service.
Detail on a number of possible options for the future of Glamis Hall – including closing the building and stopping the service, refurbishing it and keeping it open, working with a partner, providing a scaled-down service, building a new centre, or selling the building, had also been presented to councillors to discuss.
After more than an hour of sometimes heated debate, councillors voted with nine in favour and three against to cease day care services from Glamis Hall and close the building from 31 December 2014.
Following further discussion councillors then voted to begin negotiations, with immediate effect, with any interested parties that could take on the provision.
Speaking after the meeting, council leader and chairman of the resources committee, Cllr Paul Bell, said: "This is obviously an emotive and sensitive issue, with a lot of public feeling behind it. Councillors who voted to close Glamis Hall did not do so easily.
"We agreed at the start of the meeting to begin the process from scratch, and that’s what we did. We set aside the original decision, heard the speakers, and considered the incredibly detailed report we had. We had so much more information than when we made the decision in June and I can assure people that it was all read, and all carefully considered.
"The facts are there and they are very plain – we have independent reports on both the building and the service, and unfortunately they don’t come up to scratch and would cost an awful lot of money to put right.
"We have a substantial budget deficit and this is a discretionary service. We have a population of more than 75,000 people and have to consider how to make limited funds stretch far enough to benefit those people as widely as possible.
"We do have initial interest from a few groups and organisations that could potentially take the service on. We are happy to talk to anyone that believes they can put forward a sensible business plan. Indeed, those talks are already beginning today.
"If, however, no workable business proposal is put forward by the end of the year, it is the recommendation of the resources committee that Glamis Hall will close on 31 December."
The resources committee recommendation will go to the full council meeting on 7 October 2014.
The reports and papers considered by the resources committee, as well as a video recording of the meeting, can be found on the council’s website