CAMPAIGNERS who’ve been fighting to save a closure-listed day centre have welcomed a decision that could see it reopened.
It had been expected the Melville Centre would last week be confirmed as the Abergavenny base for Monmouthshire council’s My Day, My Life support service for adults with learning disabilities.
But when the council’s Labour-led cabinet met last week to take the decision the Green Party councillor Ian Chandler, who has responsibility for social care, instead asked colleagues to agree to a pause for talks to continue with campaigners who’ve been fighting to re-open the Tudor Centre since November last year.
The service, that was launched in 2014, had been based at the Tudor Centre but the building has never reopened since closing at the start of the Covid pandemic. In November 2022 the cabinet announced, without consultation, it planned to confirm its closure and sell the building for affordable housing.
Owen Lewis, who has been at the forefront of the campaign and is part of the Gathering Community group which hopes to reopen the centre, said the council’s “pause” is welcome.
He said: “I’m pleased Ian Chandler from Monmouthshire County Council is supporting us in our bid to get The Gathering (our community group) into Tudor Street. However we don’t have a timescale at the moment. We are working with Monmouthshire County Council officers and Gwent Association of Voluntary Organisations to develop our bid.”
Mr Lewis, who used to to work at the Tudor Centre, said its hoped it could once again be used to support a wide range of people with disabilities and support needs.
He said: “Our community group will support vulnerable adults and other members of the community in a safe, accessible and welcoming environment. It will provide a range of activities and opportunities. We have started fundraising and set up a gofund me page.”
The council has said there are 11 people in the Abergavenny area currently eligible for support from My Day, My Life and it held one to one and telephone interviews with them as part of its consultation on a base in the town, with the Tudor Centre, the Melville and Abergavenny Community Centre all shortlisted.
That showed support for reopening the Tudor Centre but the cabinet was originally being recommended to back the Melville Centre as it would be a cheaper option than reopening the Tudor Centre. There was also concern about the impact on other community buildings, that may be competing for income from room hire, if the centre reopened.
At the cabinet meeting Cllr Chandler said the council now wants to “further test” the potential impact on other centres as it holds talks with campaigners who want to develop their own service.
But the councillor also warned the work with the community group could “take some time to come to fruition if it ever does.”
The council has said all-options for an Abergavenny base are open at present, meaning a decision to use the Melville could still be made, and it is committed to the town.
It has said the pause will allow it to consider how the choice of a base in Abergavenny “could support other community organisations who are seeking to provide support and sociability for a wider group of individuals with physical disabilities, neurological challenges, mental health needs and learning difficulties.”
Cllr Chandler said: “I am committed to developing a shared vision for how we support people of all abilities in our county. I want this vision to include high quality spaces, which are welcoming and accessible, that can be used by different groups of people from the wider community as well as those directly supported by the council.”
At the cabinet meeting it was also agreed a My Day, My Life base should be established at the the Overmonnow Family Learning Centre in Monmouth where there are 10 people currently entitled to support.
The council has said its hoped the Monmouth base can be open “as soon as possible” and has said if it is operating before a base in Abergavenny service users would be able to make use of it.
A council spokeswoman said: “If the base in Monmouth opens first, it is possible that My Day, My Life users from the north of Monmouthshire might visit the Monmouth base for specific activities, but it is our desire (and the desire of users) to open the base in Abergavenny as soon as possible.”