‘Disbelief’ as much-loved care service may be axed

'Surprised and disappointed': The Phoenix Centre in Lewes
'Surprised and disappointed': The Phoenix Centre in Lewes

The Phoenix Centre in Lewes faces closure after being ‘unfairly’ added to East Sussex County Council’s growing list of cuts after the budget was agreed.

The council retrospectively added the Malling Street venue to a consultation process involving four other day centres for the elderly and disabled.

Liberal Democrat Philip Daniel, who represents Ringmer and Lewes Bridge on the county council, said: “I am very surprised and disappointed that the Phoenix Centre has been added at this stage. It wasn’t in the budget.

“It’s very unfair that it has been added retrospectively and I will be campaigning and lobbying against any withdrawal of funding.

“After the so-called consultation on the library resulted in no change, one has to be pessimistic about the Conservative leadership.”

The Phoenix Centre provides a day care facility to over 55s suffering from long-term health issues such as dementia, Alzheimer’s and the after effects of a stroke.

Care officers offer personal care including administering medication, and a vast range of activities such as pottery and art therapy which aim to prevent isolation and increase a client’s physical and mental health.

Independent Cllr Ruth O’Keeffe said: “There is a sense of over-riding disbelief that the Phoenix Centre is now on the list.

“I received a letter only today from a distressed carer astonished that it might close.

“This is a much-loved service, which really helps local people, actively being cut.”

Clients of the centre pay £54 for a full day’s care, or £30 for half a day.

A spokesperson for East Sussex County Council said: “The council agreed to consult on the option of making savings of £59,000 from older people’s day services. Our initial work in reviewing Milton Grange [Eastbourne] has shown we need additional information to help us make a decision on how these savings might be found. Therefore, the review of services has now been extended to include the day service at Warwick House [Seaford], as well as the Phoenix Centre and two other day services we commission and fund.

“As we are including these additional day services in the consultation, our priority is to inform clients, carers and staff.

“As the county council does not directly provide the other three day services, we agreed with the service provider that clients and carers be informed of the decision to include these services in the consultation.

“We will continue to work with people who use these services to help them take part in the consultation, and they and their families will have 10 weeks – until Monday, May 28 – to take part.

“This will also allow equality impact assessments to be completed.”