By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan
A community hub for older people’s day services in Birchington is likely to be relocated amid concerns about its declining usage.
The potential move comes after the number of people using the Minnis Community Hub dropped from 79 to 22 between August 2011 and July 2019.
Kent County Council, which runs the hub, has suggested moving the existing service to Westbrook House in Canterbury Road, Margate, in an effort to improve its usage and provide new services, such as physiotherapy, and occupational therapy.
Earlier today (January 16) KCC’s adult social care cabinet committee widely backed the move at Maidstone County Hall, but Cllr Liz Hurst (Con), who represents the division, said: “It’s a shame that Birchington loses something else.”
After the meeting, Cllr Hurst said she had “real concerns” about the future of the Birchington hub, adding: “What will become of it?
“I do hope, given the fantastic facilities that are there, that the Birchington hub will be used to a greater degree and improve the lives and well-being of residents.”
Around 36 people, including staff, residents and users, objected to the potential move during an eight-week consultation, held late last year, amounting to 52% of the total 68 respondents.
They said the care at Minnis Community Hub was “excellent” and stressed the need to maintain specialist services in Birchington amid the planned development of 1,600 homes in the area and potential extra demand.
But, KCC says that 2,000 new homes are expected to be built in Westgate and despite “investing significantly” into turning the Birchington service around – approximately £189,000 a year – the council has failed to improve the level of usage.
Cllr John Burden (Lab) said he “regretfully” backed the proposed decision during today’s meeting and said: “The service needs to keep evolving otherwise people will fade away in isolation.”
Concerns were also raised about the travel distance for Birchington residents, but KCC says none of the users walk to the centre and all are reliant on public transport, taxis, or family members, to drive them to the Minnis Road site due to their health needs.
It would mean that journey times are reduced for nine users who live in Westgate-on-Sea, Ramsgate, Margate, Broadstairs and Canterbury, but increased for the 13 Birchington residents, who would have to travel close to three miles to Westbrook House.
Minnis staff will be consulted individually as part of a 30-week consultation, which will take place over the coming weeks, before a final decision is made.
In my opinion the Hub has been poorly promoted and local people are not aware if its benefits. It is a Day Centre (not a ‘Hub’…. whatever that is!) and access should be made a lot easier for respite for carers and the cared for. It is a fantastic facility. Closing it would be a travesty … however one might actually suspect ‘closure by stealth’ on the part of KCC. Shocking. Investigate please Isle of Thanet News.
Very possibly, but IF the number of users is only 22 then at over 8k person/ year it really is very poor value for money in times when every pound needs to be used as efficiently as possible, a community is not one if its not used.
I have to agree based on current numbers. My point is that with more promotion (local team are not allowed to advertise… KCC can only do this) and an easier way to access its benefits ( currently only by referral from social services) more people would be aware of what is available. There are more and more Carers,many struggling with their responsibilities to look after their loved ones whilst maintaining their own well being. It seems perverse to be closing a facilty at this time rather than working hard to make people more aware of it and providing easier access.
I agree that it’s not value for money with the amount of residence currently using it but the local medical people are not allowed to promote this facility and that instruction, so I am led to believe, comes from KCC. And talking about value for money, why are KCC looking to pay millions towards a new railway station near Cliffsend that’s not required. A railway station that will not be value for money. Use the millions of pounds more wisely but that’s probably not in the interests of the people.
The railway station, is for once a bit of forward planning, it will provide part of the infrastructure for the housing that will go on the surrounding land, people won’t like it but its going to happen, so better to have the station than not.
It’s a load of nonsense. There is absolutely no need to spend £Ms on a new railway station on a Greenfield site when for a fraction of the cost facilities at existing stations (Ramsgate, Minster) could be improved.
As you’re obviously an expert on transport infrastucture, pray tell how Thanet’s stations will be able to cope with the demands placed on them by the additional umpteen thousand homes planned for thanet in the next 20 years.
The parking for people trying to get to them and the associated increased traffic at rush hour times, thanet is pretty clogged up as it is. Sometimes forward thinking is required.
KCC talk a good game but when it comes to action which helps the local community they put obstacles in the way. So what happens when KCC talk about ‘care in the community’ but do not want to really promote a good facility. If the facility is not promoted how will people get to know about and use it. Why not promote something that is good for the community? I can’t think of any reason not to promote a facility that was meant to work for the people. I suppose with the money they will save on closing the facility they will be able to waste it on another useless project. I don’t suppose the people living in Kent will get to understand the thinking behind KCC’s decision making process unless of course one is of the privileged set in the rankings of KCC.
Just another point, if KCC actually believe that by relocating the facility to Westgate, in the hope they will save money but KCC will still have to pay for the new facility. So if that new facility is not PROMOTED will KCC then close the facility altogether as they will be telling the community that there is no use use for it as it is not being used. So I suppose KCC is thinking about saving money and not really thinking, caring or even worried about ‘Care in the Community’. Where are our local councilors putting their views forward on behalf of the local community? Let’s hear what KCC say about this in an open local community meeting or they too scared to be confronted!!