It’s good news that a new lease has been offered to help keep Bermondsey’s Riverside Day Centre open.
The News has been following the story of the impending closure of it and its sister centre in Queen’s Road, Peckham for months.
Both offer a vital lifeline to people with learning disabilities and their families, but face closure when their leases come to an end.
Southwark Council, which owns the buildings, said that it wanted market rate for a new lease on the Riverside centre. It also said that Queen’s Road was not fit for purpose – but is yet to explain how.
The Camden Society, which runs the centres, has now been given a new long-term lease offer on Riverside, and, we assume, is considering what its response will be. The details of the offer have not been made public, but we hope that it is one that the Camden Society can accept, for the sake of the users who flock to the centre on a daily basis.
The News has previously spoken to users of the centre and their families, and heard how important it is. It offers activities, comfort, and the chance of companionship to users, and respite and reassurance to carers and family.
Read the story: Council offers new lease to Riverside Day Centre
All of these people will be anxiously awaiting the Camden Society’s response.
But if the deal is one the Society can accept, there is still the question of what will happen to the Queen’s Road centre. There has been speculation that it could be used for new council offices.
The Lib Dems, who have been campaigning on behalf of centre users since the matter first came to light, have said that they will continue to ‘contest the decision to close another critical day centre at Queen’s Road’.
What we need now is a clear message from the council on what its intentions are for the Queen’s Road centre; and if it is going to close, what it proposes to do help its users.
Councillor Richard Livingstone, Southwark Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Care and Financial Inclusion, said in a statement about the Riverside centre this week that Southwark knows service users would like clarity on what services are on offer. This is also the case for Queen’s Road.
Will the council now make clear what it can do for the Peckham centre’s users? If the centre has to close, will alternative provision be made? If so, what, where and when?