A DECISION to base a support service for adults with learning disabilities at an arts centre – rather than its former home – is to be examined by councillors.
They will meet this week to consider the decision to choose the Melville Centre, in Abergavenny, as a new base for the My Day, My Life support service.
Campaigners had wanted the service to use the Tudor Centre as a base, as had been the case before the day centre closed at the outset of the Covid pandemic in March 2020.
The campaign to reopen the centre was kickstarted at the end of November last year when Monmouthshire County Council’s cabinet agreed, without consultation, to the permanent closure of the social services run building and for it to be sold for social housing.
However the council’s ‘call in’ process was used – meaning a cross party select committee was able to examine the decision – and with any decision on the building’s future placed on hold it was one of three shortlisted as a potential base for activities and service users and staff, in line with the recommendations of a review of the service.
However the Labour-led cabinet, when it met earlier in November, agreed it should use the Melville Centre as the new base, where My Day, My Life could have a dedicated space within what it called a “vibrant community hub”.
But that decision, and one taken earlier in October to establish a base for the service in Monmouth at the Overmonnow Family Learning Centre, have been called in, meaning the council’s people scrutiny committee will look at how the decisions were made.
Green Party councillor Ian Chandler, who is the cabinet member responsible, is expected to appear before the committee to defend the cabinet’s choices when it meets this Friday, December 1 at County, Hall in Usk at 10am.
The committee will have to decide if it is happy to accept the decisions or it could order the cabinet to reconsider or decide it should be for the full council to either accept the decision or force the cabinet to think again.
Conservative councillor for Mitchell Troy and Trellech, the opposition leader, Richard John, Usk ward member Tony Kear and independent councillor for Llanelly Hill, Simon Howarth, have called the decision in.
They have cited a lack of pre-decision scrutiny and “proper community and service user engagement” as their reasons.
When the cabinet agreed on the Melville as a base it was told it would require “significant” investment of £135,355 to make it fully accessible, and its intended to apply to the UK Government’s shared prosperity fund to secure the money needed.
It will have to spend £127,650 to bring the Monmouth building up to standard, including improved pedestrian access, but won’t have to pay any rent as it is already in the council’s ownership.
When the cabinet opted for the Melville Centre it was also agreed no decision on the future of the Tudor Street building would be made until the end of the financial year to give community groups with plans for a support service for vulnerable adults time to come forward with any proposals they may have for the building.