Residents determined to keep common room to maintain active social lives

First published in News Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter (Richmond)

RESIDENTS of a housing association complex who fear they will lose a common room that provides social and active entertainment have said they will start a picket line to save it.

Broadacres Housing Association development Priory Close in Northallerton has informed residents of plans to close the community room to possibly convert into two new bungalows – but residents, led by Mary McCabe, 88, who looks after the centre, say they will not allow it to happen.

Northallerton Town Councillor Jack Dobson said the common room is the hub for elderly residents.

He said: “As well as providing social support for residents, activities include bowls, bingo, coffee mornings and birthday teas.

“It is also used weekly by North Yorkshire County Council as a day centre by transporting other elderly residents in the parish for day care, and hosts groups to support people with learning difficulties.

“The core policy of the government and local Clinical Commissioning Group is to keep elderly people in their own homes by giving social support – which the common room fulfils by encouraging activities, interaction, and prevents isolation and loneliness.”

Cllr Dobson added: “We should all support our elderly residents; we should care for them and remember that they created the society we live in and they should benefit from that society.”

Mrs McCabe, who has lived in Priory Close for 30 years, said: “We used to have a warden who held the keys to the centre but when he retired I was asked if I would have them – I still have them several years later.

“I don’t mind doing it because I know how important it is to everyone here; most residents are in their 80s and can’t go very far. We come to the centre to have a nice cup of tea and catch up, and the bowls club is very popular.

“One lady who plays is 91, and we all enjoy the bingo nights. We just won’t let Broadacres take this away from us.

“I will start a picket line if I have to.”

A spokesman for Broadacres said: "We are carrying out a community consultation into the long-term viability of the communal area and until that is complete we are keeping all options open.

"We met recently with the town and district council and Age UK North Yorkshire and they are aware that we are open to suggestions on the future of the building."

Broadacres is holding a meeting with the residents on Friday, August 22.

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