Beds, Herts & Bucks

Princes Risborough day care centre to be community-run

Volunteers are taking over the running of a day care centre in Princes Risborough after it was threatened with closure.

It follows a campaign to keep the centre for elderly and vulnerable people open when Buckinghamshire County Council decided to close it down.

The county council's cabinet has agreed a social enterprise initiative from the community.

The scheme is the first of its kind for day care services in Buckinghamshire.

In March 2011, the council decided to replace most of its 22 day centres with six "day opportunities centres" in Buckingham, Burnham, High Wycombe, Aylesbury, Beaconsfield and Amersham or Chesham.

'True community centre'

It decided to give first refusal on the use of the existing day centres to community organisations.

In Princes Risborough, there was strong interest in retaining the centre, demonstrated in a petition with over 3,000 signatures.

Following the cabinet's agreement, a Community Interest Company (CIC) will be created.

The council will lease the building for a peppercorn rent to the CIC for up to two years with the intention that the CIC will raise the funds to purchase it outright.

Community representative Carl Etholen, who helped develop a business case for the centre, said: "It's going to be a business so we are looking to fundraise over the next two years so that we can operate and provide very high standard day care services, if not better than we are running today."

Patricia Birchley, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said it was "a perfect example of the big society working".

"Princes Risborough will have a true community centre run by the community," she said.

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