Council makes call for meeting to settle future of town’s day centre

PUBLISHED: 08:19 18 January 2019

A picture of The Rowena Davey Centre in Great Dunmow, taken in 2011.

A picture of The Rowena Davey Centre in Great Dunmow, taken in 2011.

Archant

Dunmow town councillors plan to meet with Uttlesford District Council (UDC) to address the uncertain future of the Dunmow Day Centre.

The service, based at the Rowena Davey Centre, in Chequers Lane, provides lunch to more than 80 over-55s every week.

However, as reported in the Broadcast in October, day centre trustees are ‘fighting hard’ to prevent UDC, which owns the Rowena Davey Centre and pays the running costs, taking over management of the lunch service.

Currently, the board of trustees is responsible for the operations of the charity and the management of the centre is overseen by a committee.

Now, Great Dunmow town councillors plan to meet with UDC to discuss the possibility of the town council taking over ownership of the Rowena Davey Centre.

A report submitted to the town council on January 10, by the centre’s trustees, reads: “From the trustees’ standpoint, the preference is for the freehold ownership of the Rowena Davey Centre to pass to the town council with an interim arrangement between the town council and trustees that would enable the subsidy currently provided by UDC to be brought to as near a cash natural position as can be achieved.”

The report said the transference of the building would require a “staged approach,” explaining: “The building must first be offered by UDC to the town council as an asset of community interest. If not acquired by the town council, and if considered appropriate by the town council and UDC, the Rowena Davey Centre may seek a community asset transfer.”

A community asset transfer could see the building sold to the town council at less than market value.

This outcome would be preferential to another option offered by UDC, according to the report, which would see the trustees granted the lease of the building, without subsidy provided by UDC.

Colin Bradely, trustee chairman, said: “We have positioned ourselves to be able to protect the people of Dunmow. That protection is better provided by the councillors with local vested interest...so, for us, the town councillors.”

Mr Bradley previously said if UDC took over the centre’s management, it could hire staff for jobs currently undertaken by volunteers, which would result in higher running costs.

A UDC spokesman said: “We have put forward various options for the future running of Dunmow Day Centre but as yet the trustees have not given an indication as to which they prefer.”

“We do intend to meet with them but the council’s time has recently been focused on resolving an immediate issue with the Garden Room day centre in Saffron Walden, whereby the management committee informed the council that it was no longer in a position to continue running the service.

“The council acted swiftly to bring it in house, and we have already managed to reopen the Garden Room.”

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