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A LOCAL campaigner is calling for the money saved by closing the lunch club at the Assembly Hall to be reinvested back into the town to support vulnerable older people.
The president of Melksham Seniors, Brian Warwick, has also criticised Wiltshire Council for not spending the money effectively on the lunch club service, which was running at a loss of £82,000 a year.
According to Brian, the service’s budget of £117,000 (calculated from figures provided by Wiltshire Council for the financial year 2017/18) should be ringfenced for Melksham and be used to provide services for vulnerable older people to help support them and reduce pressures on local health services.
Speaking to Melksham News, Brian said, “For the last two years I have been deeply concerned about the wastage of resources going into that luncheon club, so I was delighted when I heard that they (Wiltshire Council) were going to stop it. My view is that the money which they allocated for supporting older people in the community had not been effectively used.
“The council has an obligation to identify those people in our society that really need this type of service, the vulnerable within Melksham, to ensure that they have adequate hot meals available to them throughout the week.
“I would much prefer now for that money to be ringfenced for the purpose of our community – and be spent on those more vulnerable within our community.
“We are now an ‘age friendly’ community and we should be reaching out to all that need support in the most constructive way. This could help keep them out of hospital and help to reduce the pressure on the care that’s needed in the community.
“That money should not leave Melksham, but it needs to be used effectively by working with the whole community, the town council, the parish council and the local voluntary sector.
“That’s something I feel very strongly about and something I have said for nearly two years – something needs to be done!”
Melksham News contacted Wiltshire Council to ask what will be done with the money saved by closing the lunch club and for a comment on Brian’s suggestion that the money be ringfenced for Melksham and used to support vulnerable people in the town. However, Wiltshire Council had not responded by the time the paper went to print.