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Wrexham Council to consider two council run disability services’ future

Erlas Walled Garden site

THE FATE of two projects providing opportunities for people with disabilities in Wrexham are in the balance, with housing developments earmarked near both sites.

Councillors are to consider the future of the authority’s sole day care facility, the Cunliffe Centre in Rhosddu, and the Erlas Garden project on Bryn Estyn Road.

The council runs day and work opportunities to provide care and support to adults over the age of 18, and who have a disability, within these projects.

But a report to be presented by lead member for adult social care, Marchwiel Cllr John Pritchard (Ind), to the authority’s safeguarding, communities and wellbeing scrutiny committee, suggests the service be reviewed with a view to modernisation.

A feasibility study and consultation could lead to the projects being replaced with other premises and schemes.

The report claims the Cunliffe Centre is dated and too large for current need, while the Erlas Garden project has struggled for numbers since the pandemic.

“There remains a need to modernise and reshape day services in order to deliver more flexible and person centred services that meet an individual’s outcomes”, the report says.

“The Cunliffe Centre is located on the Greenacres site where there are provisional plans to develop housing. The building is over 10,000 square foot, which is larger than required, and some areas are underused.

“The size of the building compared to the need of the service has a higher carbon impact and has not been constructed or designed to support long term sustainability. The building is in need of significant repair.

“Prior to Covid-19 the Cunliffe Centre supported approximately 95 individuals across the week, the number of people returning has reduced to approximately 55.

“The cohort of citizens now accessing the Cunliffe Centre are individuals who have a need for care and support within a centre base.

“Wrexham continues to see a need for a day care centre in the future to meet the needs of individuals with complex needs. “

The report adds: “The Cunliffe centre was built in the 1970’s. The building is outdated and not configured to meet the service needs with rooms too small to access, an unheated conservatory that can only be used in the warmer months and ongoing issues with maintenance.

“In its current form the Cunliffe would require significant investment to meet the goals for a modernised centre for individuals with complex needs in the future.

“Tentative review of plans shows that the requirement for the service could be reduced to approximately 6,000 square foot.

“To support the development of a new build it is estimated that circa £4 million capital will be required.”

The report states that a bid for funding from the council’s capital plan for 2025/26 has been made to find the money for any potential new building.

On the Erlas Garden project, the reports states: “The Erlas Garden Project operated as a small business project with an outdoor focus which appealed to individuals due to the unique environment that enhances wellbeing by way of its nature and space.

“Prior to the pandemic the Erlas Garden project operated by the Council supported 35 people across the week.

“When considerations began around unlocking the site we found that some people had made alternative arrangements either through direct payments or by other community opportunities and did not wish to return.

“The demand for the service was minimal with only nine people expressing an interest in returning.

“The team explored alternative options and these citizens have now found other outdoor focussed options which have included the allotment at Prices Lane which is run by Social Care and linked to the Cunliffe Centre, and by extending our contract with the Erlas Walled Garden (a voluntary sector provision also based on the Erlas site) to offer additional placements within their scheme.”

The committee will meet to review the day, employment and disability services provided by the authority on Wednesday (April 12).

Options for the future are for the services to carry on as they are at their current sites, or to continue with the independent review into their viability.