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MSDC Respond To Resident's Question Over Their Commitment To Services For The Elderly In Burgess Hill

3rd November 2017 | By Peter Chapman

Mid Sussex District Council were asked to respond to the current situation of Age UK West Sussex wishing to pull all services from the Cherry Tree centre in Burgess Hill, when a local resident took advantage of the 'questions from the public' segment during the full meeting of the district council on Wednesday evening (November 1st)

The Question
Following the shock decision by Age UK West Sussex to end its tennancy, will the council confirm its commitment to continue its provision of services at Cherry Tree, Burgess Hill, by taking over the running of the centre - supported by volunteers, and will councillors also give an assurance that funding will remain in place rather than following Age UK West Sussex elsewhere? - Hils Sharpe, Burgess Hill Resident.

The Council's Response
It's a very important issue and I do want to reiterate that the council has a three-year funding agreement which runs from 2016-2019 with Age UK West Sussex, and that is to provide services to tackle social isolation for people aged 50 and over in Haywards Heath, Burgess Hill and the surrounding area.

The funding agreement does not require Age UK West Sussex to deliver the service at specific venues, but they are required to provide a range of services, activities, information, lunches and transport to ensure the programme is welcoming and accessible to everyone.

Membership at Cherry Tree has been in decline and Age UK does not consider that it is a good location, so the board of trustees decided to pursue an alternative way of delivering activities in community venues - which has worked successfully in other areas.

We fully understand the concerns of residents and we will be urging Age UK to carry out further research and to carry out an in-depth consultation with local stakeholders and centre users, before reaching a final conclusion about how services should be provided in the future.

We will not accept a reduction in services for older people and we will work with Age UK to ensure that they develop a sustained plan for the future. The council is fully committed to delivering the service for older people in and around Burgess Hill which meets the needs of residents.
- Cabinet Member Norman Webster

Cllr Norman Webster

Later in the meeting, during question time with cabinet members, Cllr Edward Belsey (East Grinstead) asked the following:
Unfortunately, the diminishing of the service, is I believe, the result of the budget cuts at West Sussex (County Council) itself.

We as a council (MSDC) have a very strong financial base, and can I ask the cabinet member and the leader, that perhaps we use our financial base, maybe from Health and Wellbeing, to expand or maintain the services that our residents require, rather than see them struggle a little bit.

It's not something that the cabinet member can answer by himself, but it's something that perhaps the leader can answer as well. A little bit of help for our residents please.

You can listen to the full exchanges in our recording here:

Spread the word! MSDC respond to residents over their commitment for the long-term provision of services for the elderly in Burgess Hill

Got an opinion on this story? Leave a comment below.....
What do you think of the council's response? Does it convince you that they will really ensure that Age UK West Sussex come up with the best outcome for local people?

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