This morning I attended a meeting with the staff and users of the Launceston Day Care Centre. The centre provides activities and support for adults with learning disabilities in the town and the surrounding area. The problem is that the centre is located on the Newport Industrial Estate and really needs to move into the town.
The industrial estate is a busy place. There are businesses all around the centre with cars and lorries loading and unloading at all times of the day. It's also pretty noisy. None of that is unusual for a thriving industrial estate and I wouldn't want to put a stop to any of it. But it's not exactly the place for a day centre for people with learning disabilities. They told me themselves how unsafe they feel walking around and how cut off from the town they are. The policy of the government and of the Council is that people with learning disabilities should be part of the community - able to meet with and interact with their neighbours and able to do all the normal things like shopping and going to the library. That's simply not possible stuck in Newport.
The users have identified another building in town which they feel would be ideal for their new site. It's council owned and it is both big enough and with a garden. The site is the rectory next to St Mary's church. What's more, it is empty at the moment. Of course, the new building would need works doing to it in order to make it ready to be used as a day centre. But it would also be able to be used by other organisations who could help to contribute to the costs.
The Council officer at today's meeting was told that Launceston Day Care Centre had been asking for a move for 11 years but kept on being held up. Now we are told that the different parts of the council are looking at what can be done. I'm glad to hear that and hope that they can move swiftly and agree that Launceston should be treated as a high priority.
At the end of the day there should be no 'one size fits all' solution for day centres across Cornwall. The fact that Launceston identified what it needed and got all its ducks in a row before others should not mean that meeting their needs is delayed unnecessarily.
Even though it would mean losing this excellent facility from my ward (it would move into Launceston South where Sasha Gillard-Loft is the councillor), I am delighted to support their campaign as being the best for Launceston and the best for the centre users now and in years to come.