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Saturday, 01 November 2014

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Elderly ‘devastated’ as threat to Ulverston centre looms

A VITAL lifeline for vulnerable and elderly people in Ulverston is in danger from council cost-cutting.

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fears for future Age Concern’s base in Ulverston is threatened by plans to sell the town hall to developers for housing. From left: volunteers Jeanette Hill, Daphne McGinley and Margaret Gifford HARRY

For more than three decades, Age Concern Ulverston and District has provided assistance for the area’s older people from its headquarters in Theatre Street.

But the building, which is part of Ulverston Town Hall’s annex, could be sold off to housing developers as South Lakeland District Council looks to offload the civic building in a bid to save money.

The news has come as a blow to the dozens of elderly residents who rely on the charity’s pop-in cafe for support and companionship.

Under SLDC’s proposals, the town hall would be converted into affordable homes and council services moved to the Coronation Hall in a bid to secure that venue’s long-term future.

Daphne McGinley, chairwoman of Ulverston Age Concern said: “We will be evicted, there’s no two ways about it. They have said they will help us wherever possible to find some new premises

“But we have a little cafe that isn’t open to the public, it’s just for the over-65s.

“People use it when they are out shopping or if they are waiting for a bus to get out of the rain; they can just have a sit-down and there’s no pressure to buy anything.”

“If they are going to help us find new premises they are going to have to help us find somewhere that’s big enough.”

Age Concern volunteer Freda Jack, who helps out at the cafe once a week, said: “People can get a cup of tea or coffee for 50p which is cheaper than anywhere else.

“For some of the older folk, going there is their life and they are absolutely speechless at the thought it may close.

“They are such friendly and nice people and they are absolutely devastated at the thought that they won’t be able to go anymore.

“If they do sell the town hall, why can’t they leave Age Concern alone?”

The town hall annex is also used by the local branch of the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Yesterday, SLDC met with representatives from both organisations to discuss the future of the building.

A spokesman for SLDC said: “Senior officers met with representatives of Age Concern Ulverston, Age UK and Citizens Advice Bureau on Tuesday.

“Among subjects discussed were SLDC’s aims to secure the future for the Coronation Hall, providing affordable housing and maintaining a sustainable budget.

“Options for the future accommodation of these organisations was also discussed, including alternative accommodation, and SLDC is committed to offering advice and support to find a solution to this issue.”

The proposal was scheduled to be discussed at a meeting of SLDC’s cabinet in the Coronation Hall this morning.

Have your say

In addition to those using the CAB and Age Concern premises in Theatre Street there are the hundreds of people using services offered by Ulverston Mind, who are also tenants of the Ulverston Town Hall annexe. Ulverston Mind offers support to people experiencing mental ill health in our community. The number of people using our services has trebled in the last four years requiring us to find additional accommodation beyond our office premises in Queen Street. The Theatre Street annexe is a hub serving some of the most vulnerable people in the town and its surrounding area. Why do SLDC want to close a vital town centre resource for these members of our community?

Posted by Elizabeth Jones on 27 August 2014 at 18:56

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