STAFF and service users at Marlborough’s New Road Day Centre and the Jubilee Centre on the High Street are in shock after funding from Wiltshire Council was slashed.

“I don’t understand how they can make a judgement on our day centre,” said Debbie Bond the centre’s manager, “it’s not just about finance, it’s about caring for the most vulnerable in our society. These are adults with complex needs, some need 24/7 care. Some don’t have families to support them. We take them shopping, do GP visits with them and supervise them to basic tasks.”

She said those in Trowbridge at County Hall who had made the decision to cut funding had never visited the centre or understood the needs of the adults and families who use the resource. Over at the Jubilee Centre Sally Wolfenden the chairman of the day centre said the letter announcing a 30 per cent cut in funding came after she had applied for funding from the Area Board.

"It's horrible," she said, "we can see the advantages of the day centre and it's been running so well with our volunteers. We take the users to the bank or to do their shopping and help them with those basic needs."

Malborough's mayor, Cllr Lisa Farrell said the centres save the council money by providing services the council would have to fund. She also criticised the timing of the announcement giving them little time to bid for new funds or raise cash elsewhere.

In response Wiltshire Council said they were changing the way it supports community friendship clubs for disabled people across the county. Although the council won’t be awarding individual grants to 13 clubs from May 31, there will still be money available to develop a way forward that ensures there are opportunities across the whole county.

They said: “Currently the council provides grants of £124k to friendship clubs across the county. For 2019/20 Wiltshire Council will offer £62k to develop a standard countywide scheme. All clubs have been offered the opportunity to develop and influence the council’s vision of delivering these services in the future, and work with council commissioners in the spirit of co-production.

“Alongside this, Wiltshire Council will also be widely consulting with those organisations who represent individuals across the county who may not be able to access any club currently. The council will also be offering advice to clubs about alternative funding sources that might be available to explore and staff are available to meet with groups if they wish to do so.”

"Whilst I appreciate that Wiltshire Council is receiving less money from central government and having to concentrate on its statutory services, it’s hugely disappointing that it has cut funding to the New Road and Jubilee Centres. These are both run by volunteers and provide lifelines to our elderly and vulnerable. They actually help local authorities to save money by providing a vital service that might otherwise have to be provided by the Council. What’s also frustrating is that these groups only received notice of the cuts a few days ago so there was no forewarning to enable them to look for funding elsewhere. I’m hoping that Wiltshire Council will now do some handholding to help them find alternative grants.

The New Road Centre is a community day centre offering social facilities for adults with physical/learning/mental health disabilities in the Kennet district on Mon, Weds and Thurs.

The professional, qualified staff and keen volunteers cater for up to 28 adults between the ages of 18 and 60 with learning/physical difficulties based in Marlborough/Pewsey and the surrounding area.

Established in 1988, the New Road Centre is a Registered Charity that offers a safe and friendly place where vulnerable adults can have a laugh, take part in activities and meet up and make new friends with others who are affected by similar issues.