Greenhill Centre: ‘Council not listening’ claim

NEWHAM Council has been accused of going through the motions over a public consultation on closure of the Greenhill Centre after representatives turned up late for a meeting.

But the Town Hall insist they are consulting fully on the plans.

Users of the day care centre in Manor Park and their relatives were angered when Cllr Joy Laguda and a team of council staff arrived late for the meeting.

Emotions were further inflamed when Cllr Laguda left abruptly at the end to go to a funeral.

Rita O’Leary, 62, of East Ham, who attended the consultation along with her husband and daughter, Karen, a centre user, said: “She left without warning when many people still had their hands in the air.”

Ms O’Leary, who is campaigning against proposals to close Greenhill, which were announced in November, said the ad hoc nature of the meeting indicated that the council was not serious about the consultation process.

“They weren’t listening to us. They are just paying lip service to the process.”

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A spokesman for Newham Council issued an apology for the late arrival of Cllr Laguda and her team, which he said was due to traffic.

The spokesman added that the meeting had over-run to compensate for this and staff members had stayed behind to answer questions once the councillor had left.

He said that the council was also available for face-to-face meetings with concerned service users and their families.

“We are consulting on the proposed closure of the Greenhill Centre because the building is large and out-dated,” the spokesman said. “It costs a lot of money to run and it would take a huge amount of money to bring it up to an acceptable modern-day standard.

“As part of our transformation we want to ensure that those residents who currently live in our residential care homes or use our day centres have access to high quality facilities that give them a better quality of life, while offering value for money for the taxpayer.

“These meetings with family and friends are just one of the many ways we are consulting regarding the proposed closure of the centre.”

He added: “In addition, Newham Council and Age UK will be consulting with users of the centre, we will also gain the views of groups such as Newham Disability Partnership Board, other partnership boards and carers’ groups and Newham Link before we make any recommendation on the future of the centre.”