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‘Not fit for purpose’ - call for centre revamp to support community

PUBLISHED: 07:31 19 September 2020 | UPDATED: 07:31 19 September 2020

County councillor Emma Corlett outside Vauxhall Centre, Johnson Place Norwich, where day services for older people are being stopped. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

County councillor Emma Corlett outside Vauxhall Centre, Johnson Place Norwich, where day services for older people are being stopped. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

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Calls have been made for a centre which has stopped providing day services for older and disabled people to be revamped because it is “no longer fit for purpose”.

County councillor Emma Corlett outside Vauxhall Centre, Johnson Place Norwich, where day services for older people are being stopped. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN


County councillor Emma Corlett outside Vauxhall Centre, Johnson Place Norwich, where day services for older people are being stopped. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

The Vauxhall Centre in Norwich is one of five community hubs where social enterprise Independence Matters has announced it will stop running day services.

While the services have not run since lockdown, it means 81 people funded by the county council and 30 private clients will not be able to use those services again.

Other affected centres are at Benjamin Court in Cromer, Laburnum Grove in Thetford, Cranmer House in Fakenham and The Lawns in Great Yarmouth.

While the council says it will find people alternative support, Emma Corlett, Labour county councillor for Town Close says it is crucial that services for local people are still available in her ward.

But, amid concern the council, which owns the Vauxhall Centre, may consider selling off the site, she says investment is needed to overhaul the centre.

She said: “i am determined that the site is retained to provide high quality community and social services for all ages.

“The building is dilapidated, not fit for purpose and must be one of the least energy efficient buildings in the city.

“It needs a complete overhaul so that it is sustainable environmentally, socially and economically so people who use services are in a high quality environment that is welcoming and pleasant.

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“People living with a disability and existing users of the children’s centre and Deaf Connexions [based in the centre] should be fully involved and co-produce future plans.”

She said, if the council is able to afford to build a new car park at County Hall, it should be able to find the cash to revamp the centre.

A spokesman for Norfolk County Council said: “Discussions are ongoing about how the building will be operated and used in the future, with no decisions yet made.”

MORE: ‘Put yourselves in Norman’s shoes’: Daughters plea over day services axe



Independence Matters was originally set up by the county council and has 17 other locations.

But Jonathan Dunning, UNISON branch secretary at the county council, said: “Independence Matters’ decision to close these important local public services is a damning indictment of the lack of proper central government funding of adult social care.

“It also highlights the risk to service users and workers from local authorities externalising services that for years had previously been provided directly by the council.

“If the services were still provided directly by NCC there would be real meaningful consultation on the future. This is one of the reasons UNISON opposed the creation of Independence Matters and the transfer of these services from the council.”

He said he feared there was a “real risk” that suitable alternative provision would not be found for users and that the council might look to sell off the Vauxhall Centre.

A spokesman for Norfolk County Council said: “Discussions are ongoing about how the building will be operated and used in the future, with no decisions yet made.”


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