CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save a day centre for adults with learning difficulties have come face to face with the councillor responsible for its closure at a protest.

Users of the Tudor Day Centre in Abergavenny and supporters staged a rally outside the closure-listed building today (Wednesday, December 7) which Councillor Tudor Thomas, who has taken the decision to permanently close the centre, attended.

The building hasn’t re-opened since it was closed at the start of the first Covid lockdown and Cllr Thomas, Monmouthshire County Council’s Labour cabinet member for social care, last week approved its permanent closure and a plan to use the site for affordable housing instead.

Cllr Thomas addressed the crowd, who had gathered on Tudor Street, when a local resident set up a PA system and there was some heckling as he spoke.

After his address a member of the crowd disputed that service users and families had been written to ahead of the decision. Cllr Thomas replied: “that’s the information I was given”.

Cllr Thomas, who is also the local member for Abergavenny’s Park ward, told the crowd: “The reason I took the decision, which wasn’t taken lightly, is there has been a great decline in the number of people regularly using Tudor Street since 2014.

“The building is not in a good condition and would need a huge investment to bring it back up to standard to re-open and there is a huge demand for affordable housing.

“Those are the reasons. I’ve heard quite a few people tell me the opposite and I’m more than happy to accept written views.”

Among those attending the protest was Sarah Griffiths, 38, of Abergavenny who was a regular user of the centre before its Covid enforced closure.

She said: “I used to do cooking and also admin work on a computer there as I was helping people in the office.

“When I was going to the Tudor Centre it was three or four times a week and I could talk to my friends but we can’t do that now. I now only see them on a Wednesday at Mardy Park, which is out of Abergavenny, or if I pass them in town but that’s not the same as seeing them in one room.”

Sara Chicken, who also spoke over the PA at the meeting, said her 27-year-old daughter, Emily has neurological condition Rett Syndrome, which requires 24/7 care, had previously used the centre.

The Abergavenny resident told Cllr Thomas: “We need a day centre, or a hub, that can be a warm place that people can meet their friends and have somewhere to go, not just going around Abergavenny spending their time in cafes.

“If that is what the council thinks is good for them then you need to think twice, where is the care?

“If you spent a day looking after someone like my daughter you would soon find out about the stress and the strain I, and my husband, have to go through. You have got to get a new hub whether in there, or another place in Abergavenny.”

Karen Webb, who attended the protest with 23-year-old son Alex Davies, said he had previously used the Tudor Centre during school holidays and was due to attend full time before its Covid enforced closure.

He now has support at home from Monmouthshire’s My Day, My Life service, but she said without the centre as a base carers have had to change him in supermarket toilets.

They are also limited in activities they can provide.

“It rained on Monday this week and they took him to Trago Mills and just pushed him around the shops where here they could do lots of activities,” said the mother, also of Abergavenny.

At the protest Cllr Thomas told the Local Democracy Reporting Service he had attended to hear what people had to say. He said the council’s support for adults with learning disabilities is changing.

“The whole system is changing to more individual packages, such as going out for a day with carers, which we pay for, or holidays and things like that.”

Monmouthshire council intends to sell the site, likely to a housing association, and has taken the decision to close the Tudor Centre before a review of how the My Day, My Life service is completed as it fears a change in planning rules, due in June next year, could mean the site is no longer able to be redeveloped.

Cllr Sara Burch, the cabinet member for communities, was also at the protest.

In response to calls to consider other potential sites for affordable housing she said: “There are very limited options open to us for affordable housing and what we’ve got to do is look at all the resources the council has and make best use of them given the very, very difficult financial situation.”