Fincham day centre issues closure warning over funding cut plans

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A West Norfolk day centre will be forced to close if proposed cuts in transport funding are implemented, officials have warned.

Staff at the Aspires Day Service in Fincham have called for the public to write to them to support their fight against the Norfolk County Council plans.

The plea comes with less than two weeks remaining in a public consultation on plans to cut around £120 million from the authority’s budgets over the next three years.

One of the areas earmarked for cuts is the amount the council spends on transport as part of its adult social care services.

But Aspires, whose members held their annual Christmas party at the Fincham memorial hall, says that would affect almost all of the people who use their services and force them to shut after almost 20 years of operations.

Managing director Jackie Murphy said that would be traumatic for the 45 people who currently use the service, some of whom have been attending since the centre opened 18 years ago.

She said: “Aspires is their way of life, providing them with a sense of belonging and purpose, friendship and care.

“Norfolk County Council appear more committed to saving a relatively small amount of money than safeguarding these vulnerable people.”

But County Hall officials say the gap left by the cuts would be filled through the increased use of public and community transport services.

They also say that meeting service users’ needs locally and increased use of Motability subsidies would also help to meet the shortfall.

However, Aspires is calling for local people to write to them to express their support for the retention of the transport service, which is under threat for a second successive year.

All the comments they receive will be passed to the county council before its consultation ends on January 14. The council’s budget is due to be set at a meeting in February.

Supporters can write to Aspires, Chapel Farm, Fincham, Norfolk PE33 9HF or email jackie.aspires@btconnect.com by next Saturday, January 9.