‘Reduce transport cost or Dunmow Day Centre may have to close’

Wendy Barron

Wendy Barron - Credit: Archant

A radical new approach has been called for to help keep a struggling elderly people’s day centre afloat.

Subsidising the cost of transport could be the key to boost dwindling numbers at Great Dunmow’s Chequers Lane facility, which have reached worryingly low levels according to vice-chairman Wendy Barron.

The “vital service” could be at risk of closure if numbers do no pick up and Uttlesford District Council’s cabinet member for finance has not ruled out stepping in to save it.

Mrs Barron, who is a town councillor, said: “We do not want to close but we will not be able to afford to pay for the food and the staff. We just need more people to come in for lunch.”

She added: “Some of the problem is the cost of getting people here. They have got the Uttlesford Community Travel (UCT) bus but that costs £3 just for the first couple of miles. Then they have to pay the same to get back. It is a big problem, especially for people in the surrounding villages. It does make it very expensive for pensioners.

“If we could subsidise the cost of transport, that would really make a difference.”

In the past around 40 people would drop by to enjoy lunch at the centre, Mrs Barron said, but the number is now barely half that.

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The flooring is being replaced next month, which the committee hope will improve the look of the place, but members do not know what else to do to get people through the door.

Uttlesford District Councillor Robert Chambers, cabinet member for finance, told the Broadcast that the council is looking at ways to improve day centres in the district.

He said: “Certainly the transport issue is something we will have to have a look at. There is talk about closing day centres but there is no way we are going to do that.

“We are trying to look at how we can expand the day centres. That is one of the reasons we are trying to get an expert in to help to see what can be done.”

The Dunmow Day Centre is open on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Fridays.

What can be done to improve the attendance at Dunmow Day Centre? Is there a barrier to you or your family using it? E-mail editor@dunmow-broadcast.co.uk