DESPITE a packed public meeting to discuss the issue, where serious concerns were raised, the Isle of Wight Council has said mental health day centres are still likely to close.

Around 75 people attended the meeting at the Riverside Centre last night (Thursday) to discuss the plans, which could see Parkland in Cowes, Riboleau in Ryde and West Wight Day Services in Freshwater — plus a satellite centre in Ventnor — closed to save £145,000.

More than 5,500 people have signed a petition calling on the council to reconsider its decision.

Colleen Brannon, who organised the meeting alongside Unison, said: “We won’t stop fighting, even if the council wants to close the service.

“A lot of people with mental health issues made the effort to come out last night, and that shows how much people care.

“Why should they pay the price for austerity? People say it isn’t political, but we need to look at the cause of where this is coming from.”

The council said the current provision was ‘outdated’ and ‘not aligned with the mental health blueprint, which maps out a more progressive and proactive approach with a focus on shorter term interventions.’

Dr Carol Tozer, the council’s director of adult social care, said: “We need to focus on a more person-centred approach which promotes well-being and recovery.

“Before any changes in provision are made, every person attending the current services is being reviewed so we can be clear we are continuing to meet all eligible needs and, where we do not have a statutory duty, that we are actively supporting those people to access alternative support.”

It means the day centres, which the council said were used by 85 people, will likely close in their current form.

Mark Chiverton, of Unison, said: “Community based services need to be at the heart of the service. There should not be a drop or a reduction in the service.

“A lot of people feel this decision has been slipped in under the radar, and this is going to be a real danger in terms of people’s mental health getting worse.”

The council said 11 people attending the centres were already funded by the council to live in residential care and 34 of the 85 people were elderly, so it would want to provide a more age-appropriate service.

Proposals for the future of community mental health day services on the Island were first published in October last year, as part of the 2019/20 budget consultation.

At the time, the council had to identify £5.5 million worth of savings to set a balanced, legal, budget. It included £2.07m worth of savings in adult social care.

Full council agreed in February to reduce the budget for community mental health day services by 75 per cent — around £148,000.

Dr Tozer said: “We must prioritise our spending within adult social care to the most vulnerable.

“Local councils, including the Isle of Wight, need a secure and sustainable funding base for adult social care.

“Here on the Island, a far greater proportion of residents is elderly than is the case nationally — equally, we have increasing numbers of disabled adults, including people with mental health needs, who need support.

“Over the previous two years, we have managed to protect our expenditure on mental health services despite significant savings required that has not been possible for a third year.”