The leader of Wellingborough Council has said he wants to find a way forward for Glamis Hall despite councillors voting to close the day centre.
Members of the authority rubber-stamped the decision for the popular centre to close at a meeting on Tuesday night.
It comes after months of campaigning by the Save Glamis Hall For All group to keep the facility open.
Following the outcome of the meeting, council leader Paul Bell has today (Wednesday) released a long statement to talk through the decision and clarify a number of issues raised during the meeting.
In his own words, Cllr Paul Bell said: “The decision was made last night to close the building and cease day care facilities at Glamis Hall from December 31, 2014.
“This decision was made with 20 votes in favour, seven against, and one abstention.
“The decision was also made to continue to negotiate with any interested parties who may be able to run the service after the building closes.
“I would like to provide clarity regarding these two decisions and the implications resulting from them.
“It has been confirmed that the day care service at Glamis Hall will no longer be run by the borough council in 2015.
“This has always been a discretionary service – one we are not legally obliged to provide, and one that we can no longer afford to provide.
“Council budgets have been cut significantly and we have a responsibility to every taxpayer in the borough to spread increasingly small amounts of money as widely as possible, to benefit as many people as possible.
“We do recognise, however, that by providing the discretionary service at Glamis Hall for a number of years, we have created a responsibility to those that use it.
“This is why, rather than simply closing the building and walking away from the service, we have agreed to negotiate with groups that could take it on.
“There is a difference between not agreeing to a specific request from campaigners – that of either reversing the decision or extending the time the centre will remain open – and the suggestion that campaigners are not being given support.
“This council has been accused of not listening to the Glamis Hall clients, and not caring about them.
“I would like to say on record that this is not true.
“We do want to find a solution for after the council ceases to run the service, and we are offering considerable support, help and advice to the campaign group as they continue to develop their business plan.
“We have arranged an informal opportunity for any interested parties to present their ideas to all councillors and answer any questions councillors may have, and we will be arranging a special meeting after that briefing for this to be discussed in more detail.
“Both before and after those meetings, our officers will continue to offer assistance to help shape a workable business plan.
“There are also other ways the council could help, such as potentially providing the capital investment necessary to bring the building up to scratch before it is transferred to the community.
“None of this support is affected by the decisions made last night, in fact it is confirmed that we will continue to negotiate.
“We are talking to, and will continue to talk to, any group that can take on the service after we close it.
“Council finances are complicated, with both a revenue budget and a capital budget.
“Our revenue budget is particularly stretched – that’s the money we use for every day running of services, including Glamis Hall, and it is running at a considerable deficit.
“Capital money is money we have in the bank but by law we are only allowed to use it for larger-scale projects, and we are not allowed to use it to prop up the revenue budget.
“In essence, that means we could perhaps afford to provide the money for a renovation project at Glamis Hall, but we don’t have the revenue funds to continue to run the service from there.
“The crematorium project has been mentioned many times when discussing Glamis Hall.
“The crematorium is a stand-alone capital project to benefit the community, and which will also, when up and running, provide an income that we can use in our revenue budget to help run other services.
“Not building the crematorium, and not providing adequate capital funds to complete the project, would have no impact on the problem of having insufficient revenue funds to run Glamis Hall.
“Many more issues have been raised and accusations made – often in particularly strong and personal terms – but I would like to say that all minutes of all meetings are publicly available and detail what happened at those meetings, including parts that weren’t filmed; and that any councillors, of all parties, that offered apologies for last night’s meeting did so for their own personal reasons including work commitments, bereavement, and holidays, and at no time were instructed not to attend.
“I have no desire to get into a war of words.
“I, and my fellow councillors, would like to find a way for Glamis Hall to continue after the council stops running it at the end of the year, and I believe we are better placed to achieve that if we talk and negotiate. We will be meeting interested parties on October 27 and I hope we are able to use that meeting to continue to find a way forward.”