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Town council in Powys firing line

 
Created on 02/10/2020 @ 10:47
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For the second time in 24 hours, Welshpool Town Council has come in for strong criticism from Powys County Council, this time over the Neuadd Maldwyn plans.

Powys has decided to turn its council offices (pictured) into Extra-Care accommodation in partnership with ClwydAlyn for what it says is much needed accommodation for the elderly.

But the decision has resulted in the library being downsized and squeezed in with the Powysland Museum to accommodate the council staff, but the budget to convert the library building into offices has shot up by 50% this week.

However, after the library building was not deemed big enough, the spill over staff were relocated to council-owned buildings on the main street with charities told to make way. One of those charities moved to the Armoury, resulting in that facility ending decades-use as a sports centre.

Earlier this week, the Town Council planners questioned whether the new Neuadd Maldwyn facility was needed in the town, and also shared the concerns of local residents living nearby.

Their discussion came as a planning application was discussed to provide the 66 one and two bedroom apartments within the existing building (and an extension at the rear of the building).

Powys said that the accommodation follows the successful Extra-Care development in Newtown (provided by Wales and West Housing Association) at Llys Glan yr Afon and would see a significant investment in Welshpool with the provision of at least 20 jobs.

And light of the negativity coming out of the Town Hall, Councillor Myfanwy Alexander, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Adult Social Care, responded: “Though I fully respect the difficulty for any community to embrace change, Powys County Council’s Social Care team is committed to this project because it meets the needs of local older people.

“I frequently hear from families supporting older relatives who are anxious about the future and express the wish that there was a way to preserve Mum or Dad’s independence as long as possible whilst ensuring their safety as they grow more frail. Subject to planning permission, this is what will be provided here for the community of Welshpool and I would encourage everyone to learn more about these plans which warrant widespread support.”

Dylan Owen is head of Commissioning (Children and Adults) with the council and added: “Extra Care provision in other parts of Wales is proving a successful model for enabling support for residents while also giving them the independence and privacy of their own ‘front door’. Residents in Newtown are already enjoying the benefits of this style of provision.

“We have identified the increasing demand for accommodation for elderly people in the area and shared this research with the town council so it was a little disappointing to hear their comments on that point. This is a carefully thought through development which, if approved, will really benefit older Welshpool area people if and when they need support.”

Edward Hughes, Director of Care and Support from ClwydAlyn said: “We have carried out two rounds of engagement with stakeholders (including the town council), one prior to submitting the planning application. We had to do this slightly differently because of the Covid19 pandemic but all relevant stakeholders were able to have their say on the plans. As a result, a number of alterations to the plans were made after discussions with the town council. 

“Whilst the focus of this project is on older persons’ accommodation, ClwydAlyn is committed to the town of Welshpool, where we already provide 215 family homes, and have recently provided support for the development of a 3G sports pitch that would service the wider community including younger people.”

If the development is given the planning go-ahead, the 66 extra care apartments are likely to free up many homes for families in the area as these older people move into Neuadd Maldwyn for support.

Last night, Powys rebuffed criticism that it had pulled funding from the Ann Holloway Day Care Centre, and said they hadn’t even been informed by the town council about its closure plans.

You can see a ClwydAlyn video showing people’s experiences of Extra-Care in other parts of Wales at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGvqWJ4f0GY. You can also read more about the project at https://www.clwydalyn.co.uk/neuadd-maldwyn/

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