The Sir Joseph Whitworth Centre shut on New Year’s Eve as funding cannot be found
Protest against the closure of The Sir Joseph Whitworth community centre
The battle to save the Sir Joseph Whitworth Centre appears lost as it shut for good on New Year’s Eve.
A huge campaign – including a 2,500-signature petition – looked to have won a reprieve for the ‘vital’ mental health services centre in central Stockport.
But campaigners say that while the council agreed to stump up £40,000 annually to secure its future, Stockport Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) failed to match this.
Had this happened the centre could have remained open but the CCG says the services on offer there do not fall under its jurisdiction.
The council has offered help to relocate groups that use the premises but this will not happen immediately and campaigners worry service users will be lost in the interim.
John Pearson, from Stockport United Against Austerity, said: “This could cause a lot of damage.
“The CCG has been the major let down with a bureaucratic response. It says it wants to prevent people getting ill, this is what the centre does – it is invaluable.”
Activities, counselling, support and social groups for people with mental health issues and carers take place at the centre, on Chestergate, which is run by volunteers and welcomes 180 people a week.
The CCG held the building’s lease but chose to break from it early and end it on New Year’s Eve.
Stockport Council sublet the centre and both organisations shared the rent.
The council was offered the lease and to pay full rent but decided this was not affordable and it was announced in summer the centre would shut.
Campaigners lobbied hard and appeared successful when town hall bosses agreed to find £40,000 to continue sharing the rent.
The CCG has not matched this but says mental health provision in Stockport is funded by Pennine Care.
Dr Ranjit Gill, from the CCG, said: “We met with many service users and carers. We listened to their concerns. We plan to commission an innovative new service and therefore are no longer in a position to continue the lease.
“To ensure this meets the needs of service users and carers, we have asked for their input in its development.”
A Pennine Care spokesman said it has not provided any service from the centre and that it has to save £8m annually for five years.
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