Citizen reader's letter prompts council to save popular Milton Keynes club for people with learning difficulties

The power of the Citizen letters page has saved a club for people with learning difficulties from closing down.

Tuesday, 31st May 2016, 2:24 pm
Updated Tuesday, 31st May 2016, 3:28 pm

A reader wrote a poignant letter last week about how her sister was in tears after finding the council-run Neway Club had shut without warning.

The high spot of her sister’s week had been meeting her friends at the Wednesday evening club nights at the Bradville venue.

“I think it is disgusting the way this has been handled. There was no notice period for people to prepare to say goodbye to their friends, with whom they have spent most Wednesday for the past 10 years,” said the letter writer, who asked for her name and address to be withheld.

Labour Cabinet member Councillor Nigel Long read the letter in the Citizen and immediately raised the matter with council officers.

“I wasn’t aware of the club closure and I’m not happy about it. The Citizen reader was quite right to raise it,” he said.

Nigel asked for an investigation and it was discovered the council had a commitment to keep the club open under its learning disability policy.

In fact it had closed without the council’s knowledge - due to staffing issues connected to the ending of the Community Support Team Services.

Now the council has pledged to re-open the club immediately and staff it with its own workers from the learning disability service.

Nigel said: “It’s proof that the Citizen letters page has power. Councillors read it and take account of it.”

He said the issue was not connected with the council’s budget savings and money to run the club was still available.

Meanwhile the 40 Neway club members were contacted today and told the good news about their club, which is held at the Mathiesen community centre.

Members play pool, bingo, chat and join in organised activities.

“I’m really happy. I have fun there,” said one.