Protesters fight third bid to close West Hampstead dementia care centre
Warning that shutting down Netherwood Day Centre will be a 'backward step'
13 January, 2017
Protesters outside the Netherwood Day Centre
CAMPAIGNERS have swung back into action after the council launched a third move to close a dementia day centre.
The Friends of Netherwood Day Centre say they will not let the Town Hall sell off and shut down the specially designed building in West Hampstead without a fight.
Family carer and journalist Jane Clinton, who has led two successful campaigns to stop the closure of Netherwood since 2011, has questioned statistics informing the latest closure plan.
She said: “Camden have realised the error of their ways on this twice already – are they really going to go through this again?”
The council announced its “preferred option” is to move all old people’s day centre services – Netherwood, Raglan in Kentish Town and Charlie Ratchford Centre, Chalk Farm – into an “older people’s hub” in a newly refurbished Kingsgate Resource Centre, West Hampstead.
Netherwood is Camden’s only specially built day centre for people diagnosed with dementia. Its large garden and spacious, welcoming rooms have long made it a jewel in the crown of the borough’s dementia daycare.
But the large site and position by railway land and close to Brondesbury overground station has made it a prime target for council valuers.
Labour ward councillor Thomas Gardiner said: “We [Kilburn ward councillors] think that options other than closure should be looked at more closely. There are rising levels of dementia nationally and locally.
“We think it would be a really backward step to close the only specially built dementia centre in the borough.”
His colleagues in the cabinet, however, have warned that the council’s funding from central government has halved since 2010, leading to difficult decisions.
Back in 2012, a glittering array of A-list celebrities including Ricky Gervais, Benedict Cumberbatch, the late Terry Pratchett, violinist Nigel Kennedy, actors Robert Powell and Ray Winstone, backed the campaign to save Netherwood, while Roundhouse boss Sir Torquil Norman spoke up at heated public meetings.
The Town Hall say there has been a “sustained decline” in Camden day service use in the last two years, producing figures that show a fall of 893 to 782 members across the borough between 2014 and 2016. New joiners are also down, it said.
Ms Clinton believes there are potentially flaws in Camden’s information and that referrals had been intentionally slowed in recent years to give the impression of waning interest.
Many at Netherwood had joined through word of mouth, she said.
Day centre users at Charlie Ratchford were due to get a new centre in a development there, but under the new Kingsgate plans “a day centre in the new Charlie Ratchford development would not be built”.
In a statement, Camden’s social services chief, Councillor Georgia Gould, said: “There is a growing national crisis in adult social care and, without more funding from the government, we must take action to maintain high-quality care for our residents.
“The number of people using our day centres has reduced over recent years, and we also have several day centres which offer similar services.
“We are proposing to reduce the number of day centres from which we provide services, without reducing the level of care we provide to our older people.
“For some people, this may mean that their current service would be provided from a different building.
“We will fully consult on these proposals and we urge service-users, their carers and families to have their say so that we can agree the best possible future arrangement.”