The Tollcross Leisure Centre could become one of the first major facilities to be turned into a ‘local legacy’ of the Commonwealth Games, if Accord Centre users’ wishes come true.
The users’ group has been attending the Accord Centre in Dalmarnock on a daily basis because they are families caring for someone with special needs such as Autism, Downs Syndrome and other complex conditions.
The East End centre is to be demolished and the regular users dispersed across the city. But a group of about 30 families have said they were promised ‘like for like’ facilities when told the centre was to be closed. This week more than 150 people campaigned on their behalf in the nearby Forge Shopping Centre because they consider what they’ve been offered in place of the Accord facilities is not good enough for the vulnerable users’ needs. ‘This is to draw attention to what is happening,’ said a spokesman for Citzens United, one of the campaigning groups.
Glasgow City Council officials and senior personnel from the Scottish Government discussed the Tollcross ‘legacy’ possibility this week.
Said Grace Harrigan, one of the leaders of the Accord Centre Action Group: ‘Some of us visited a Lifestyle Centre in Cambuslang to see what South Lanarkshire offered its vulnerable community members. I wept when I saw it. It was everything we could wish for. There was a swimming pool, gyms, film room, cafe, art room and facilities for people with special needs like our sons and daughters. But it was also open to the public in a way that was safe for the vulnerable users but integrated with the general public.’
A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: ‘We have been working on reforms to our learning disability service for well over three years now and the closure to the Accord Centre has to be seen as part of those reforms. The closure of the Accord centre is in line with Scottish Government’s policy. The majority of carers actually support a move away from the Accord Centre and some people have already gone to alternative accommodation.’ He added: ‘The changes being implemented will see service users continue to receive appropriate and tailored levels of support while also providing greater scope and flexibility for individuals to follow their interests and aspirations.’
Later the City Council spokesperson confirmed the meeting with the Scottish Government. He said: ”David Crawford, the council’s executive director of Social Work Services, met with the Scottish Government and representatives of the minority of carers who are not content to move to the Bambury Centre. The carers, who previously insisted on a like-for-like facility, have now raised the possibility of using the community facilities at Tollcross Leisure Centre. It is exceptionally helpful that the carers have changed their position and now agree with the Council and the Scottish Government that a community facility is an acceptable alternative to the Accord Centre. A substantial amount of work needs to be done on this proposal and we are seeking clarity from the Scottish Government on what exactly is proposed.’
A comment was awaited from the Scottish Government as this report was activated on this website.
TOLLCROSS LEISURE FACILITIES
Glasgow City Council and Glasgow Life have undertaken a £14 million revamp of Tollcross Glasgow Club premises to prepare for the Commonwealth Games in 2014. The investment will produce two 50 metre swimming pools, one of the biggest gyms in Glasgow with more than 1000 pieces of equipment, a refurbished games hall, new dance studio and a range of function spaces for competitive and community health and fitness events.
During the Games it will host swimming events and, subsequently, major international championships and it will ‘meet the needs of the local community.’ says Glasgow Life website. The work will take about 14 months to complete and has started with the completion of an additional car park. The ‘wet side’ facilities will close to the public on Sunday 23 October 2011. The rest of the building remains open until mid December 2011. The re-newed complex is seheduled to reopen in the spring of 2013.
New discord is appearing in the row over the Accord Centre in Dalmarnock which is used by families who care for adults with complex needs such as Autism or Down’s Syndrome.
Following a personal intervention by Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, who came to an agreement with Glasgow City Council Leader Gordon Matheson for the day care centre users to go to the nearby Bambury Centre when the Accord Centre is closed, many families are disputing the Bambury was ever a real option.
But Glasgow City Council say it is erroneous to claim the Bambury was rejected by Accord Centre users. Said a spokesman: ‘The majority of carers actually supported a move to the Banbury centre back in March, but plans fell through just two weeks before the intended move was due to take place because serious financial difficulties emerged on 11 March, which forced the Bambury into the administration. This put a question mark against the long term future of the centre, with the administrator only able to offer a lease on a month-by-month basis. In these circumstances, with no guarantee that a long-term lease could be secured, Social Work concluded that it would be inappropriate to move to the Banbury and made it clear that the Accord Centre would remain open as an alternative in the meantime. In other words, Social Work had no wish for people to move only for them to have to move again because a short-term lease had expired.’
He continued: ‘The financial issues at the Banbury have now been resolved and the council is now looking to move forward and secure the centre on behalf of the Accord service users. The council is hopeful that as care plans based on the move to the Banbury centre were completed only recently, these plans can be implemented without too much difficulty. These care plans are created in conjunction with carers and service users. It should be borne in mind that the Accord Centre has been a place where people meet in the morning before leaving to take part in activities in the community during the day. These activities include access to leisure services, education, training and work experience and can take place in venues such as Kelvinhall, Tollcross Leisure Centre, John Wheatley College and Reidvale Neighbourhood Centre, where many people with learning disabilities work in the cafe.’
He added that special support equipment had been removed from the Accord in order to be re-located within the Riddrie Centre in time for those Accord Centre service users moving over to Riddrie Centre to be able to use it. ‘These are service users with the highest and most complex support needs,’ said the spokesman.
Council Leader, Gordon Matheson has written to all families who use the Accord Centre to outline the ‘potential solution’ made between him and Alex Salmond. He stressed that the Council intends to buy the Bambury Centre which was ‘ the preferred option for the majority of service users until it became unavailable earlier this year.’
He added that it had been accepted between the two leaders that other local groups which might need to use the Bambury Centre when it was not used by the Accord families, should continue to be able to do so. But the Accord Centre users were to have dedicated time in the Bambury.
In conclusion Gordon Matheson said: ‘It will take a little time to finalise the purchase of the building and to plan the transition and the Council will keep you advised of developments. I know this has been a tense time for many families involved with the Accord Centre but I would like to think this proposal is a positive outcome for service users and their carers. I sincerely hope that you also consider this proposal a positive one.’
A spokesperson for the Accord centre users who have rejected moving to the Bambury Centre said: ‘The Bambury was rejected by the majority of people in March when it was mooted. The financial crisis meant the offer was not formally put on the table and we were glad about that because it was not an option for us. We think the Council is trying to solve two problems in one – the problems of the Banbury centre and the problem of where to put the large number of Accord Centre users who have not found it acceptable or convenient to go to Riddrie Centre.’